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Proportional Representation vs. First-Past-The-Post

Proportional Representation vs. First-Past-The-Post


The concept of "power in numbers" is omnipotent in every form within society. Proportional representation (PR), when executed suitably, is completely based on the "power in numbers" idea. It proves to the population that every vote counts. Proportional representation is undoubtedly a better system of voting Members of Parliament into the House of Commons because of its ease of use and fairness to the entire Canadian population. An excellent example of this is demonstrated by Norway who has been using PR for more than 11 years. The Norwegians have nearly perfected this form of voting and have had little to no problems with it. Another sizable reason why proportional representation should be instituted into the Canadian way of voting is because it tightens the gap of women's representation. This gap has been growing significantly because of the single-member district electoral system. PR would decrease this gap. Another reason why PR should be instituted into the Canadian governmental system is because of the high turnout of voters it would bring. This is largely because of the knowledge of voters that their vote will count for more in the PR system than it would in the plurality system. Proportional representation would not be considered in countries such as Japan, Russia and New Zealand if it was not a feasible idea that could be implemented into their governments with ease. The biggest problem with plurality is the obvious problems with representation and regional conflict that it has plagued the Canadian government with for many decades. Although there is a great representation of the parties that receive the "majority" of the votes, there is hardly any representation for the minority parties; this then causes a large regional conflict. Plurality only increases the amount of tensions between regions. Problems between the French-Canadians and English-Canadians have been heightened because of the lack of proportional representation. The Canadian government should look to the Norwegian's and follow their healthy lead. It is completely evident that proportional representation is the most reliable and feasible method for electing the Members of Parliament to the House of Commons.

A very substantial reason why proportional representation is the better electoral system than the first-past-the-post system is because it has been proven in other countries to increase voter turnout in local, provincial and national levels. The reason for this is that with plurality, one can only count on the larger parties to win; therefore, instead of "throwing away" a vote for a smaller, less popular party, the voter would either vote for the larger party or not vote at all. "Because seats can be gained [in PR] with only a fraction of the total vote, voters have fewer incentives to abandon their most preferred candidates. Accordingly, the number of viable candidates increases with PR" (Boix 610). Plurality can occasionally result in outrageous outcomes. For example, "the right-wing British Columbia Liberals won a provincial election, taking 97 per cent of the seats (all but 2) with just 58 per cent of the vote" (Carty 930). People often wonder why in Canada, no more than 50 per cent of the population votes during any governmental election. Reasons for this could be a result of a handful of factors. Citizens could be apathetic to which party wins; they could be ignorant in regards to politics or, the majority of the population that does not vote is probably no longer concerned with politics because of the discrimination of the plurality system. "...inequalities in the representation of the different political parties… are regarded by some commentators as factors leading to a loss of interest in politics, and even to disaffection" (Caron 21). Some will wonder, after being educated on the topic, that for the most part, if proportional representation seems to be a better way of electing MP's to the House of Commons, why has it not been implemented into our electoral system? The answer to this question lies in the fact that once in power under the first-past-the-post system; the political party that may have once wanted to put into effect the system of proportional representation would most likely have a change in thought. "Unfortunately, those good intentions often melt away like snow on a sunny day once the party comes to power" (Caron 22). Sadly, this is in fact a legitimate way to govern as a dictatorship (Caron 21).

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