Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Our voting system, Iggy, and inertia

The National Post's Rex Murphy provides a strong argument for keeping our current "first-past-the-post" voting system, as opposed to the proportional representation that seems to be fashionable lately.

This is one of those issues where I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it doesn't seem right that, under first-past-the-post, representation in Parliaments or legislatures doesn't match the popular vote. On the other hand, proportional representation seems to produce mixed and indecisive results.

Murphy's main argument is that first-past-the-post forces elected representatives to maintain roots with the local ridings and constituencies that elected them. With proportional representation, he says, you essentially get elected lobbyists more interested in abstract issues than, well, people.

It should be noted, too, that Mr. Murphy does a nice job of tying the merits of our current electoral system with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's current woes. For, if you don't establish roots with the people you represent — and Iggy living elsewhere for over 30 years is a good example of that — then how can you expect Canadians to feel as though you're one of them? It's first-past-the-post embodied on a national scale.

Nevertheless, I suppose I'll keep listening to good arguments on both sides of the voting system debate, and keep trying to make up my mind. But I suspect that, regardless of what I think, things won't change here any time soon — in part as a result of the factors Rex Murphy discusses. Inertia also tends to be an extremely underrated force in politics. Like they say, if it ain't really broke, why fix it?

You won't resolve this just by listening to arguments. You will need to look at all of the countries that have proportional representation and compare them to the all of the countries that have winner-take-all elections. If you just listen to the arguments made by advocates, you will hear about Israel and maybe Italy, but not about the Netherlands, Sweden and dozens of other places with very effective, and very proportional, governments.


More effective than Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, etc?


Here are the facts:


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