I must say I am a little disappointed to hear today of the removal of changing our system of First Past the Post elections.
It is clear to me that the government has decided that there is little broadly accepted consensus for the form of revision despite the claims of Fair Vote Canada, the New Democratic Party, the Conservative Party and indeed, perhaps, the Liberal Party of Canada.
I certainly did not like the most prominent forms of proportional, mixed member proportional, ranked ballots that appeared to be favoured by some. That the models under consideration largely were lifted from the electoral systems used in Germany, New Zealand or Australia or other jurisdictions rather than from home grown innovation disturbed me.
I am particularly disturbed by any system that would “top up” to proportionality that would employ lists provided by a political party. I reject this format because it provides more power to the political parties and potentially the favouritism of the party leader. The people from such lists will be beholden to the leader.
Furthermore, the selection from party lists of “top up” members is not transparent to voters. It would be opaque to all but those involved in party politics. Ratification or other aspects of these proportioning members may well delay the exact nature of the new House of Commons for some time adding confusion for the electorate.
The concept of a ranked ballot for representation of an individual constituency should be a non starter. Especially in a riding where there could be far more than three candidates. With a large field, the likelihood of an election result producing the “least objectionable” candidate being elected would not serve to provide decisive representation in the House of Commons.
The ranked ballot may be suitable for party leadership or the party selection of their local candidate as a conveniently reducing the need for multiple voting rounds but it is not ideal from the voter’s perspective.
The proposal I have presented in this blog (and I encourage you to read the archives) may not immediately result in a precisely proportional House of Commons but it offers a significant advance to that goal. It is simple, can provide far better representation for constituencies across the country and a stepping stone to another aspect of our democracy that needs reform - the Senate. The First Past the Post plus 100 closest Seconds provides far more Canadians with an effective vote. It will lead to a more co-operative federal government and it will be more responsive to the population at large.
As this proposed reform of the electoral system is founded on the same principals of voting we use today, it would be easily understood and could be implemented rapidly.
Electoral Reform Proposal
Aspirations and Observations Underpinning My Proposal
Direct representation and accountability is an essential aspect of a democratic system of government. The electorate must be able to know who they are voting for, and ultimately feel their interests will be conveyed in the House of Commons. The largest possible number of voters should be able to take comfort that their views will be voiced.
Any reformed system should also be easy to understand and easy to explain to voters.
The current FPtP does elect an MP voters can easily identify as their local representative. FPtP fails in about 60% of the ridings to represent the largest number of voters. Elected MPs have won seats with the support of less than 27% of the voters - ie more than 73% voter against the member.
Many candidates are nominated by the parties despite knowing their chances of winning election locally are slim at best. Sometimes, a party will parachute a “star” candidate into a “safe” riding even over the objections of a local association.
Any reform proposal will change the strategy and tactics politcal parties use in their quest seats in the House of Commons. This proposal, while simple, will dramatically change the House of Commons. It will provide much broader representation of local aspirations.
The Proposal: FPtP Plus Close Seconds - Basics
In each of the 338 (current) electoral districts, the candidate with the largest number of votes will be elected.
For each of the 338 (current) electoral districts, the popular vote for each candidate will be calculated. Comparing the popular vote between candidates on a district by district basis, the 100 closest results will be determined. In those districts, the candidate that received the second most votes will also be elected.
All MPs elected, whether by simple majority of votes (FPtP) or elected as “Close Second” will enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as Members of the House of Commons.
The size of committees of the House of Commons should be increased by about 30% to reflect the number of additional Members of Parliament.
Parties will not be allowed to nominate more than one candidate for any electoral district.
I have analysed the results for the last five general elections. A number of charts and tables are published in my Electoral Reform Blog that illustrate how the House of Commons representation would look if the proposal was used as an overlay of those results.
Go to the Electoral Reform Blog