Saturday, February 27, 2016

An Idea Whose Time Has Come


Guy Giorno came out this week in favour of proportional representation. Before you get too excited, you might remember that, once upon a time, Stephen Harper was also in favour of proportional representation. That was until he figured out that only 30% of Canadians supported him and that he'd  never become prime minister under PR.

Nevertheless, Kelly Carmichael writes, support for proportional representation keeps mounting -- because under PR almost all votes count:

In the 2012 election in Sweden — a country which uses proportional representation — only about 1.4 per cent of voters cast votes which elected no-one. In the most recent election in New Zealand, which uses proportional representation, about 6 per cent of voters cast ballots which elected no-one.

In our last election, "the number of voters whose votes went nowhere was over nine million — about 52 per cent of those who voted."

And what about the argument that proportional representation leads to government instability?

What about “stability”? A study comparing democracies over 50 years found elections were actually slightly more frequent in countries with winner-take-all voting systems. Proportional representation usually leads to stable majority governments, built on common ground, giving parties a strong incentive to work together.

In fact, legislatures which are elected by proportional representation have quite a record of accomplishment:

Research shows that proportional representation is strongly correlated with positive outcomes such as lower deficits, more surpluses, lower levels of national debt, lower income inequality, better environmental outcomes and higher scores on the United Nations Index of Human Development. The bottom line: PR produces policies that reflect all voters better.

The bottom line? Proportional Representation is an idea whose time has come.


lungta said...

Proportional Representation?
guaranteed basic income?
are we beginning to see
that when everybody benefits
everybody benefits?

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting to see what kinds of ideas are finding their way into the public forum, lungta. Some people have known for a long time that things get better when you share the wealth.

zoombats in Hong Kong said...

Well, everyone will benefit from MP's having Fridays off because our MP's will be so happy that their abilities to represent us will be enhanced. Everyone benefits and our MP's will be rested, or sedated, whatever you prefer.

Owen Gray said...

I confess that I'm sympathetic to MP's who have families that live at a distance, zoombats. That said, we always get the government we deserve. And sometimes we make stupid decisions.

Rural said...

As one who is strongly in favor of electoral reform I am becoming increasingly concerned that those that support the ever increasing call for a 'proportional' voting system are not fully aware of the various options and their consequences. I do hope that public pressure does not eliminate some of the other choices before the committee even is formed.

Owen Gray said...

I agree with you, Rural. As the chart indicates, there are several options. And, as Duff Conacher has written, it is critical that we follow a best practices model to choose the best option for this country.