Plurality Voting System In Canada Essay

2551 words - 10 pages

The current plurality voting system in Canada is regularly attacked for unfairly representing the popular vote and giving some parties a disproportionate amount of legislative power while leaving others with none. Opponents contend that other electoral systems would be far superior and provide a better democracy. Proportional representation (PR) is usually cited as the best alternative; the debate of proportional representation versus plurality often hinges on the balance between fairness and efficiency. Without attempting the political calculus to determine the rate at which fairness should be sacrificed for efficiency, this paper will address the very claim that PR is more fair than the plurality system. The proponents contend that PR is a more accurate representation of the electorate's vote, that no votes are wasted, and that the will of the people translates into government better than the plurality system; however, the experience of New Zealand challenges that assertion. This paper will establish that the current plurality system produces a government that is more effective, better represents the people, and is more transparent than the proposed alternatives, namely proportional representation.
The founding principles of democracy are the will of the people and the rule of law. The former meaning that the citizens' beliefs, desires, etc. are translated into the government. The latter meaning that all individuals have equality under the law and that each individual has equal influence; this is frequently interpreted into the idea of one person, one vote (Garner, 2009). A third principle may be added to first two meta-principles as an offshoot, that the government must be transparent in its functions to achieve true democracy. If these are the principles of democracy, then the ideal voting system must support the principles.
Canada, and the majority of former British colonies, use the plurality voting system (Blais and Massicotte, 1997). The plurality, or first-past-the-post, voting system is a system where the candidate with the most votes, though not necessarily a majority of votes, wins a constituency. This process is repeated in 308 constituencies across Canada with the party winning the most ridings becoming the government. This system has substantial benefits: notably that it is clear, easy, and efficient. The system is well understood and produces a very clear government after the election. Most importantly, it produces a government that has a strong mandate to govern and one that usually hold the majority of seats. A majority government can execute its policy without concern that other parties can stop it by collectively voting against the legislation in the House of Commons. This allows the government to take action and implement its election promises with the knowledge that it will have several years of rule before having to answer to the electorate for its actions.
Opponents challenge the system noting that it results in a...

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