Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What did we get out of that Election?

The federal election is over and I feel a little ripped off. One really has to question what value the 5 week, $290 million dollar campaign actually provided to Canadians.

After all, we are back in a minority government and we had the lowest voter turn out in history. I have quite a few friends who think that "government doesn't affect my life" so I'm not surprised that turn out is declining. Governments at all levels have to work to re-engage citizens in the process.

At the local level there are lots of tools we can use but at the federal level what could one do? Perhaps ensuring that everyone's vote counts by using a system of Proportional Representation (PR) would help. This came to me this morning from Fair Vote Canada who work to promote the use of PR:

"Once again, Canada’s antiquated first-past-the-post system wasted millions of votes, distorted results, severely punished large blocks of voters, exaggerated regional differences, created an unrepresentative Parliament and contributed to a record low voter turnout.

The chief victims of the October 14 federal election were:

- Green Party: 940,000 voters supporting the Green Party sent no one to Parliament, setting a new record for the most votes cast for any party that gained no parliamentary representation. By comparison, 813,000 Conservative voters in Alberta alone were able to elect 27 MPs.

- Prairie Liberals and New Democrats: In the prairie provinces, Conservatives received roughly twice the vote of the Liberals and NDP, but took seven times as many seats.

- Urban Conservatives: Similar to the last election, a quarter-million Conservative voters in Toronto elected no one and neither did Conservative voters in Montreal.

- New Democrats: The NDP attracted 1.1 million more votes than the Bloc, but the voting system gave the Bloc 50 seats, the NDP 37.

Had the votes on October 14 been cast under a fair and proportional voting system, Fair Vote Canada projected that the seats allocation would have been approximately as follows:

Conservatives - 38% of the popular vote: 117 seats (not 143)
Liberals - 26% of the popular vote: 81 seats (not 76)
NDP - 18% of the popular vote: 57 seats (not 37)
Bloc - 10% of the popular vote: 28 seats (not 50)
Greens - 7% of the popular vote: 23 seats (not 0) "

Full Article Here (PDF file)

I'm not sure how we ensure that politics is seen as relevant to our daily lives but letting everyone's vote count couldn't hurt.


Leslie said...

Couldn't agree more, Bill. This election was a waste of money and gave us little, although the Liberals will likely go through another leadership race and that will give the Harper government some breathing space. That is, or is not, a good thing, depending on where a person sits politically!

The voter turnout is frighteningly low--do people really not understand how dangerous it is to have a disengaged electorate or is our system just so discouraging that people give up?

BC is taking another run at a more representative system for provincial elections and I'll be watching that with great interest.

Anonymous said...

I'll repeat some of what I said on your facebook note.
PR is not the answer and by using results from a FPTP system and apply them to a fictional election based on PR is fantasy.
And if the NDP and Greens think that an election based on PR would actually give them these seats. It's dillusional.
All parties would see their percentage of the popular vote decline along with their seat totals. As more narrow and regional parties emerge.
You should take a look at "the pirate party" that orignated out of Swedens PR system. For a taste of what PR will result in.
All a new party would need to do is take away 3 percent from the Greens and voila still no seats.

I'll be watching BC closely as well. But I'm inclined to be a little bit more supportive provincially.


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