Essay on Plurality Voting System in Canada

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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…show more content…
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 significant amount of “wasted” votes because many voters, often a majority, vote for other candidates during the election but do not receive the representation of their views by a Member of Parliament. Further, disillusionment is created from the feeling that there are many ridings where there are “safe” party seats that one party or another is going to win
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