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Election Results Reading

September 20, 2009

Well, Jack and Gilles didn’t seem to even get up the hill before they started restating their support for the Conservative’s EI bill.  So while it seems less likely there will be an election this fall, its bound to happen fairly soon.  While we wait to find out here’s some interesting reading to counter some of the silly talk in the mainstream media who wonder in bafflement what could possibly be wrong with our perfect democracy.

Wilf has a great discussion on what is wrong, each party is entrenched in their own local regions of support that give them many more seats than they deserve in those regions.  Each of them loses out in other regions but they don’t complain because they don’t want to lose their safety nets.  The NDP seem to be the only ones not benefiting from this (and the Greens obviously) so its funny they don’t more frequently and agressively harp on about electoral reform.  They seem to think they can win this regionalized voting game under the current rules.  They need to sits down and look at some numbers.

So while Jack is pondering how he got into his current mess and when he’s going to pull the plug on the current government, here’s some more reading for him.  WastedVotes lists results form past election with some very nice charts so you can see where your votes are being thrown away. Note that the first party gets lots of bonus vote they don’t deserve, the second gets some too or comes out close to a fair number of seats and then all the other parties wildly jump up and down depending on if they are localized (Bloc) or spread out nationally (NDP and Greens).

Another great resource I just found is this beautiful page of numbers from our hard working people at Elections Canada.  Thank you faceless government bureaucrat!  This table contains the number of votes, percentage of votes and actual party seats for every election all the way back to 1867.  Just go back to the 19th century results, even back then the number of seats varied a lot after only a small change in proportion of vote.  And it just got worse once third and fourth parties became involved.

So the question is, why have we put up with this for so long?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2009 9:20 am

    So the question is, why have we put up with this for so long?

    Whooee! I reckon you answered that up top when you referred to “what could possibly be wrong with our perfect democracy.”

    Nationalistic pride and unquestioning adherence to the idea that our system is perfect (or near pearfect) is the biggest problem. The adage is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” People are unwilling to believe that there are any significant flaws Canada’s wonderful democracy that stands head and shoulders above the tinpot dictatorships and shaky coalitions and monarchies and special-interest run republics.

    The lack of introspection and blind acceptance of the unfair FPTP system is even more apparent during election campaigns when we are urged and cajoled into doing our democratic duty and exercising our democratic right to get out and vote. When our guy loses, we content ourselves with the consolation that at least we were able to make our mark on the ballot without Taliban-style intimidation or Karzai-style vote-rigging.

    If we want something fixed, we need to thoroughly convince the populatioon that it is really broken. The stats, as you point out, are very convincing. The apologists and vested interests have a distrust of “lies, damned lies and statistics” on their side. They also have they public’s distaste for wrapping its collective head around all those confusing numbers. Math is boring. Political campaigning is less boring.

    Change must come from an extremely vocal and overwhelming groundswell of public dissatisfaction with the status quo. After all, electoral change can only come about when the parties in power make it happen. The fact that the parties in power stand the most to lose from reform gives them less than zero incentive to change an unfair system in which they are the chief beneficiaries of the unfairness.

    I predict it will be decades before we have proportional representation. As with other worthwhile goals –world peace and a clean, healthy environment — I’ll continue to work for PR. Maybe my grandchildren will benefit.

    JB

  2. September 20, 2009 10:50 am

    fantastic, I agree with you 100%. And I know its hard, I was helping out with BC-STV and that went much worse than I expected. But frankly, I’m not willing to wait 30 years. I don’t know how to make it go faster, but we need to do something because a lot of our problems stem from a lack of democracy.

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