First past the post not demo­cratic

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion -

Af­ter a very long and te­dious his­tory les­son about the ori­gins of democ­racy and at­tempt­ing to de­fine the word, Todd Whit­combe ar­rived at the real point of his lat­est col­umn: to per­suade his read­ers that what we have in the way of an elec­toral sys­tem is quite OK and sat­is­fies the def­i­ni­tion of democ­racy.

I dis­agree with him. In­her­ent in the mean­ing of democ­racy is an equal right to par­tic­i­pate in the dis­cus­sion. Since we have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, the equal right to par­tic­i­pate trans­lates to each voter’s vote hav­ing the same value. That isn’t the case with our un­fair and un­demo­cratic sys­tem.

How is that pos­si­ble? It’s pos­si­ble, be­cause with first past the post, cou­pled with a rid­ing sys­tem, some votes have more value than oth­ers. Un­less sup­port­ers of a cer­tain party are con­cen­trated enough in a rid­ing, their votes don’t elect any­one.

In safe rid­ings, vot­ers sup­port­ing par­ties other than the “safe” party, might as well not come out to vote. Their vote is wasted.

A party whose sup­port­ers are scattered around the prov­ince, may be very nu­mer­ous, but if they are not con­cen­trated in a rid­ing, they will not get the num­ber of seats they de­serve. An ex­am­ple was the Green Party in 2017 – 17 per cent of the votes, al­most half of what the other par­ties re­ceived, and only three per cent of the seats.

First past the post is not demo­cratic. It dis­torts the will of the peo­ple. In 1996 Gor­don Camp­bell’s Lib­er­als won the pop­u­lar vote by three per cent and lost the elec­tion to the NDP.

Pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion gives the same value, more of less, to each vote. In B.C., 50 per cent of votes do not elect a can­di­date. In Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries, un­der PR, over 95 per cent of the votes go to elect­ing some­one.

Which is the more demo­cratic? Vote yes for PR and elec­toral re­form. If you don’t like it af­ter two elec­tion cy­cles, there is a money back guar­an­tee through a ref­er­en­dum to go back to first past the post.

Daryl Sturdy, Van­cou­ver

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.