How Electoral Systems Shape Election Results

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How Electoral Systems Shape Election Results: The Case of the 2015 Federal Election in Canada The 2015 Canadian Federal Election, which saw Justin Trudeau become the new Prime Minister, brought in the highest ever number of voters in Canadian history. Despite the high confidence of the Conservative party to win this election, many factors contributed to their defeat. Chief among these factors, which is the focus of this paper, pertains to the type of electoral system employed in Canada: the “first-past-the-post” (FPTP) or “single-member plurality.” This paper presents an analysis of the outcome of the 2015 election that is grounded in a discussion of how different electoral systems produce the particular structures that directly…show more content…
This FPTP system has also been said to lead to small parties being under-represented in election outcomes, which may misleadingly underestimate the popularity of their views than is actually the case (Donley, 2003). Moreover, because the percentage of seats is not in proportion to the MPs’ share of votes in their ridings, the common sentiment among voters is that their vote is essentially wasted. The issue of disproportionality has been used as a basis to propose electoral reform in Canada. The alternatives to Canada’s current FPTP electoral system include, but are not limited to, proportional representation (PR) and the alternative vote system. In PR systems, seats are distributed on a nationwide or regional basis. Parties’ victories stem from their proportion of the vote in multi-member constituencies (Donley, 2003). Advocates of the PR system point to the distorted preferences of voters in a single-member plurality system and thus the fairness of having a legislature more reflective of the partisan distribution of votes; in essence, each vote should bear equal weight, they argue (Donley, 2003). The typical rebuttal to this argument proposed by opponents of PR is that the executive stability brought forth by artificial legislative majorities is a more important consideration, and that PR is likely to produce more coalition governments (Cairns, 1968). Another alternative to the FPTP system is the alternative vote system, whereby voters rank candidates on
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