The majority rules in an election. That’s what we would like to think, but it’s not the case – representing a flaw in many electoral systems people have pointed out in recent years.
Canada, with more than two major parties, is a prime example of a country affected by such slanted splits in numbers at the polls. By extension, Nova Scotia and the other provinces experience the same – as laid out in the letter to the editor from the Atlantica Party on the page opposite this.
Thus, for example, in the Nova Scotia election, the Liberals achieve a vast majority, two-thirds of the seats, with 45 per cent of the popular vote. The PCs, receiving fewer votes across the province than the NDP, still gain four more seats.
On the federal level many complained after the last election that the results, a significant Conservative majority, didn’t reflect anywhere near the wishes of the majority of voters.
The skewed numbers are of course a product of our first-past-the-post system, as many have noted.
There are alternatives, such as proportional vote. Perhaps going further to reflect voters wishes is preferential voting.
In that system, voters show their preference for all candidates listed – 1, 2, 3…. If 50 per cent plus one isn’t achieved by a candidate, the one at the bottom is eliminated, and the ballots favouring that person are redistributed according to second preference. And so on, until a majority winner is determined.
One problem with any such changes to our electoral system is that the sitting government – the winner of the election – has been the main beneficiary of the system as-is. But plenty of people in this country are disgruntled with ramifications of party politics and feel the ballot they cast has no weight.
There has to be more discussion about this. It would take significant public pressure to persuade the political parties to consider a change. But it would have to be applied before an election, to see that they’re all on the same page.