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The Solution: Fair Voting
Today more than 80 countries use fair voting systems (often called “proportional representation” or PR).
Fair voting systems have many variations but the core principle is the same: to get as close as possible to treating every voter equally – or in other words, to create true representative democracy.
When each vote has equal value, election results are proportional. A party that receives 40% of the votes will receive close to 40% of the seats in the legislature, not 60% or more. A party which receives 20% of the votes will win close to 20% of the seats, not 10% or none at all.
What are the benefits of fair voting?
- All voters have a reason to vote, regardless of their political beliefs or place of residence.
Liberals in Conservative regions, Conservatives in Liberal regions, and supporters of smaller parties everywhere will be able to cast effective votes.
- Because voters are treated equally, Parliaments are truly representative of the people.
Currently some parties in Parliament have far more seats and power than their popular vote warrants, while others have too few seats or none at all.
- Majority governments represent a genuine majority.
Canadians are usually ruled by “majority” governments that the majority voted against. Countries with fair voting systems typically have stable and responsive coalition governments – stable because the parties know they will never have complete control of government and have to work constructively with partners.
- Fair voting systems tend to produce parliaments with more women and visible minorities.
Because parties have to nominate lists of candidates to compete in each region, they quickly learn that candidate lists reflecting the diversity of the population usually attract more votes.
- All geographic regions usually have representation both in the government and opposition benches.
Because every voter is equal, regions generally elect candidates from all parties, unlike our current system where one party often dominates each region.
For more details on the practical benefits of fair voting, see Fair Vote Canada’s eight-page summary of the landmark study “Patterns of Democracy”, by Dr. Arend Lijphart.