Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our electoral system is still totally broken....

So, first, congrats to the Tories on the big win last night. I maintain that the Tories have now found their ceiling, while the Liberals have found their floor, so I wouldn't bee TOO excited if I were a conservative, but still, a win is a win.

Now, on to a discussion of how messed up our system is. Last night, the Conservatives won 46.4% of the seats in the House with 37.6% of the votes. The Liberals got 26.2 % of the votes, but less than 25% of the seats. The poor NDP got 18% of voters' support, and only 12% of the power.

Look at it another way.

The main federal parties each got a seat for every X votes they received, as follows:

Tories: 1 seat for every 36,400 votes
Liberals: 1 seat for every 47,763 votes
NDP: 1 seat for every 68,029 votes

Bloc (an anomaly obviously): 1 seat for every 27,791 votes.
Green Party: 0 seats for every 940,000 votes

Our electoral system is totally broken:

  • Our electoral system turns an 11 point spread at the polls into a 21 point spread in Parliament (Liberals to Conservatives) and a 19 point spread at the polls into a 34 point spread in Parliament (NDP to Conservatives).

  • It results in a party which gets over 940,00 votes lacking any representation in Parliament whatsoever.

  • Today, the Tories are 12 seats shy of a "majority" government, and could probably get there with the support of about 500,000 more voters - but they're over 1.7 million votes shy of actually getting 50% of the vote.

  • Worst of all, the Tories outnumber the Liberals and NDP combined by 30 seats in the House of Commons. But the Liberals and NDP combined received over 940,000 more votes than the Tories. It's totally insane.
How can it be considered just or democratic that the representatives of two parties that received 6,147,065 votes can be outnumbered by a large margin in the House of Commons by the representatives of a party that received 5,205,334 votes??? You'll forgive my incredulity, but by my reckoning, "progressive" candidates received over 51% of the votes last night (and I'm not even counting the BQ as "progressive" just the Liberals, NDP, and Greens) yet today, that MAJORITY of Canadians is represented in Parliament by 37% of MPs, and the 38% of Canadians who voted conservative get 46% of the MPs. Again, it's totally insane.

Here's the Parliament our system gives us (minus independents):

Tories: 143 seats
Liberals: 76 seats
NDP: 37 seats
Bloc: 50 seats

Here's the Parliament as determined by the parties' actual share of the vote (arguably, the Parliament Canadians as a whole actually voted for):

Tories: 117 seats
Liberals: 81 seats
NDP: 56 seats
Bloc: 31 seats
Green Party: 21 seats

Not that our politicians will do anything to fix this (though if they were going to do so, now would be the most likely time) but it still bears repeating. Our electoral system is totally messed up. It results in Parliaments that don't represent the will of the people (nor even, really, attempt to) and leaves millions of voters effectively disenfranchised. If we were governed by the will of the people, we'd probably have a coalition government today representing over 50% of Canadians. As it is, we're stuck with another minority government where 38% of the people are just shy of having 50% of the power.

It's totally insane.

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Scruffy Dan said...

This could be one reason why so few of us actually turned out to vote.

If our system is going ot change ti will likely come only after most of the provinces shift to proportional representation, (or at least something along those lines).

Anonymous said...

"we're stuck with another minority government where 38% of the people are just shy of having 50% of the power."
With 40% not voting it means that 23% of the people are just shy of having 50% of the power.
Most people that I talked to prior to the election said that they were voting for the lesser of the evils or phrased in a more positive way voting for the party that best represented their views.
Other than died in the wool partisans I think that this represents the majority view of those that do vote.
There is no party that represents an individual voter on every issue before an election and we are seldom consulted on what we want done about new issues that arise after the election.
I think that the outmoded party system that we use as a means of expressing our political will is the root cause of the problem you are describing including low voter turnout.
This isn't an electoral issue it's a parliamentary issue. We need to have our elected officials responding first to their constituents and second to their party.
I don't see how any amount of proportional representation tweaks to the electoral system will give us that outcome.

doug newton