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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Some good and bad ideas about democracy

The Vancouver Sun has an interesting column by Andrew Coyne in which he makes an argument for proportional representation.

I've always argued that system is far less democratic than our first-past-the-post system for some reasons that its proponents fail to recognize. In the first place, under a proportionate system, political parties rather than the electorate choose which individuals are the legislative representatives.

Thus proportionate representation ignores the basic reality that many, if not most voters cast their ballot for the person rather than the party. There are some complex formulas that PR advocates put forward that they claim addresses that, but in fact doesn't. Under any formulation, you would have people in Parliament who received no direct votes from the public.

However, Coyne does make some valid observations, such as:

"You don’t actually vote against a party. When you mark your ballot, you vote for the party of your choice. The people who voted for the Liberal, Green, and NDP candidates in Calgary Centre did not vote against the Conservative candidate, nor did they vote for some coalition of “the left.” They voted for the parties they voted for. 
When people talk about a party winning because the vote was split, all they really mean is: that party got the most votes. The vote was “split” against all the parties in Calgary Centre, as it is in every riding at every election. It’s just that the Conservative candidate got the most votes. The same applies to the last general election. The other parties may wish to frame the issue in terms of vote splitting. But if any of them had got the most votes that’s the last you’d hear about it."

and the article is worth a read.

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