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Proportional Representation vs. First-Past-The-Post

Proportional Representation vs. First-Past-The-Post


It has been proven in many cases that proportional representation encourages women to have more of a representation in the national government. “There is a distinct gap in women’s representation in national legislatures between countries with single-member district electoral systems and those with proportional representation electoral systems” (Matland and Studlar 707). The differences between Norway and Canada show that this is evident. “…the proportion of women in the Norwegian Storting increased from 6.7% to 15.5% from 1957 to 1973” (Matland and Studlar 716). The reason for this drastic jump in women’s representation in Norway is because of the increased pressure that smaller parties, such as the New Democratic Party in Canada, put on larger parties to have more female representatives.
    …as smaller but competitive parties, usually on the political fringe, start to promote women actively, larger parties will move to emulate them. This should happen for at least two reasons. First, by nominating women, smaller parties may demonstrate that there is no electoral penalty associated with women candidates…. Second, larger parties will feel increased pressure to respond by more actively promoting women themselves (Matland and Studlar 712).
Some may state that these are solely false claims and that they may only work “on paper”, but when implemented into the real world, supporters of plurality falsely attempt to affirm that it will not. It has been proven that the representation of women had increased by at least 10 per cent in 11 of the 16 countries that used the PR electoral system (Matland and Studlar 709).

There must be several excellent reasons why the plurality system works within a government because if there were not, we would not have been using the system to begin with. Many have mentioned the fact that plurality is a good system with the saying “if it aint broke, then don’t fix it”; however, what one must understand is that of course the plurality system may be a working electoral system; nevertheless, that does not dismiss the fact that there may be a more improved, more reasonable system of electing MP’s. One may argue that with plurality, the parties must fight hard in order to win in each of the countries many ridings. “If you could win all the regions, then power was almost guaranteed. The plurality system makes this difficult, but this very difficulty caused parties to make the kind of effort necessary for success. The electoral process is a kind of test that only committed parties can pass” (Barker 309). Although this seems to be a valid case nonetheless, the underlying outrageousness of this quote completely demonstrates how unfair plurality can be to minority parties. Some may argue that “…the two issues central to the discussion of electoral systems in Canada are representation and regional conflict. Changes in electoral systems… would have little effect on either” (Barker 309). Although there may seem to be equal representation and hardly any regional conflict in Canada, this is clearly not the case. It becomes more obvious that there is a substantial lack of representation in the plurality system and that this system sparks many conflicts between regions when one divulges the true facts of the matter. Although it may seem to keep national unity, it has been an inclination of the plurality system to give small, resolute parties more seats then they deserve (Hiemstra and Jansen 295). The first-past-the-post electoral system has the ability to generate parties with national support; however, they encounter it only with enormous complexity. “Is it not safer to proceed with a system such as PR that makes fully national parties more probable?” (Barker 313). Plurality also seems to be a better electoral system because it preserves the relationship between the constituent and representative. It has been said that if proportional representation is put into operation, the bond involving the voter and the MP would be lost (Barker 307) ; however, what some may not understand is that the debate against proportional representation “…revolves around one type of PR. But other proposed reforms of the electoral system have been forwarded. a particularly popular one is the combination of plurality and PR (mixed-member proportional)” (Barker 313).

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