Making Every Vote Count: Is Proportional Representation the Wave of the Future?

Would you support a switch to proportional representation?
@Ruby3881 (1992)
Canada
May 31, 2017 1:16pm CST
In roughly 90 minutes, the Parliament of Canada will vote to accept or reject the recommendations of a committee report on electoral reform. One of the major issues is whether it would be wise to replace the First Past the Post (FPTP) system currently in place with some form of proportional representation. Many Canadians feel that the disparity between the popular vote and the number of elected seats assigned to any given party is too big. The current system favours the parties that are already in power - big parties, parties with a lot of corporate clout and almost bottomless coffers to campaign with. Some form of proportional representation - either a mixed-member system that would allow Canadians to vote separately for the local representative and the party to form the government or a single transferable vote (STV) that would allow voters to indicate their preference by rank ordering candidates - would likely narrow the gap between the popular vote and actual election results. This would leave more Canadians feeling their voice is heard when they go to the ballot box. And it would mean that smaller parties with fewer corporate ties would stand a better chance. The committee recommended that the government of Canada create a proposed system of proportional representation to replace the FPTP system in place now. They further recommended that this new electoral system be offered to the public and a referendum held to see if Canadians approve. I think a lot of Canadians would welcome the opportunity to try proportional representation. But, if the referendum results from attempts at reform in British Columbia are any indication of how a national vote would go, there are still too many people who don't understand proportional representation and who would vote against it because they fear a loss of their democratic rights. Is proportional representation used in your country? If so, are you happy with it? If not, would you want to try it out? Image: Unsplash user Arnaud Jaegers, CC0 You can see all of the committee's recommendations on the linked page. Do you think any of them would be relevant or useful where you live?
Committee Report No. 3 - ERRE (42-1) - House of Commons of Canada
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2 responses
@nomus24g (28325)
• India
31 May 17
Representation should be carefully done then...
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@jstory07 (79469)
• Roseburg, Oregon
31 May 17
It should be carefully done.
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@Ruby3881 (1992)
• Canada
31 May 17
@nomus24g @jstory07 That seems like wise advice. But what would constitute "careful representation"?
@nomus24g (28325)
• India
31 May 17
@Ruby3881 understanding of the demographics & social structure in depth, along with proper census of the classes is important....and then there has to be consensus on the margin of error, to be included when proportions are taken.... if you understand Statistics, then a proper Bell Curve distribution needs to be done...
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@BettyB (4173)
• Summerville, South Carolina
31 May 17
I need to do more research on it, but I believe it does limit the voice from the more rural areas. Due to the number of people living in cities, the cities control the vote. If we had that here in the U.S., the presidential elections would be determined by the three biggest cities. I have a problem with that.
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@Ruby3881 (1992)
• Canada
31 May 17
@BettyB Thank you for a thoughtful and respectful response! I am not an expert in electoral reform, by any means. But I am not aware nor could not locate any information that pointed towards proportional representation itself restricting the voice of people in rural communities. As I happen to live in a rural area, I would be very interested in anything you might know that can shed light on the question. Please let me know if you find anything I think part of our problem in discussing proportional representation is that the label tends to mislead most people. It sounds as if it would accord more votes to more populous areas while leaving urban regions with little say in our governance. If I understand the whole concept clearly, it looks not at the differences BETWEEN electoral districts or communities but instead at the differences WITHIN them. The whole proportion thing is about electing more than one representative in a given district, in order to represent a minority voice. Another way that it can be used is to allow voters to assign their vote to a second candidate if their first choice doesn't make the first cut. So basically, the individual voter gets MORE of a voice, instead of less.
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@BettyB (4173)
• Summerville, South Carolina
31 May 17
@Ruby3881 One of the reasons we have a Senate and a House of Representatives is to fairly represent all the people. Every state has two senators but the number in the House of Representatives is based on the population of each state. It works well, for the most part. After every election there is a push to change how the president is elected. Eliminating the electoral college and going with popular vote would shift control of the elections to the major cities. Why would candidates even bother to campaign in the smaller states? Their focus would be on the cities and making the people there happy. I don't know much about proportional representation. Your post was the first I heard about it. I hope its a viable option with good representation for everyone.
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@Ruby3881 (1992)
• Canada
31 May 17
@BettyB I suspect that PR would in some ways be a compromise between the current system and going with the popular vote. It's complicated because there are a number of different models that each work differently. And of course, as a Canadian, I still struggle to wrap my head around the way the American system works. But I don't think it would require the elimination of the Senate or the electoral college. We have a Senate and a House in Canada too. Our senators are appointed, rather than elected. And instead of dividing the representation by province, it's mostly by region. There are multiple senators for each region and their job is to represent the greater region, and not a smaller electoral district. There has been a lot of talk about dismantling our Senate because people see it as an unnecessary redundancy. But it was created to be the "Chamber of sober second thought." Because senators don't have a fixed term of office, they are supposed to help provide a system of checks and balances for the Parliament (the House) without hindering the business of the government. That doesn't always work in practice, but if we scrapped the Senate we would give the government too much power.
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