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Electoral math is hardest, says Fair Vote Canada—again
Oct 12, 2011
For immediate release
October 12, 2011
Q: Which is greater, 19.1 or 24.6?
A: Well, In Newfoundland and Labrador, 19.1% of the votes in the October 11 provincial election won the Liberals 6 seats and allowed them to retain Official Opposition status. But 24.6% of the votes cast were only enough to win 5 seats for the NDP.
Q; How much is 56.1% of 48?
A: The PC government of Kathy Dunderdale won 37 seats out of 48 (77%) with just 56.1% of the votes cast in the NL election.
“For electoral reformers, the first-past-the-post system is the gift that keeps on giving,” says Shoni Field, president of Fair Vote Canada (FVC), a national citizens’ movement for voting reform. “Every election creates new horror stories to help us make the point that our antiquated voting system has got to go.”
The previous week saw a series of provincial and territorial elections, each one offering up new ammunition for electoral reformers:
• In PEI, Progressive Conservatives received 40.2% of the votes but won only 5 seats out of 27.
• In Manitoba, the NDP received only 46.0% of the votes, but won one of the largest majorities in provincial history with 37 seats out of 57.
• In Ontario, the Liberals fell just one seat short of winning a “majority” government with only 37.6% of the votes. Meanwhile, the PCs, with just 2.2% fewer votes, won only 37 seats to the Liberals 53.
• The Yukon Party is headed for a “majority” territorial government with barely 40% of the votes cast.
All of these elections also had very low voter turnout, sometimes setting new records for non-participation. In Ontario, the turnout fell below 50% for the first time ever.
“Most developed countries adopted proportional voting systems a century ago,” says Field. “A party with 40% of the votes gets 40% of the seats, not 60%. Election outcomes make sense and most people are represented by somebody they actually voted for, so voter turnout and voter satisfaction are higher.”
“We can’t make the point strongly enough,” adds FVC Executive Director Wayne Smith, “that all of these results are perfectly typical under the winner-take-all voting system we’ve been stuck with. In Canada, we have drunk the Kool-Aid and accept such bizarre outcomes as normal.”
“Canadians know they are angry at politicians and frustrated with politics, but they don’t make the connection that these are not the people they voted for,” says Smith. Most Canadians still don’t know that there are other ways to vote. We want to let them know that they have choices.”
Shoni Field, President
Wayne Smith, Executive Director