If a proportional representation system had been put in place on Monday night, the People’s Party of Canada, a party that has the support of the far right, would likely have won a block of seats in Parliament.
So would the new Democrats. And the Greens would make more of a dent.
Conservatives and Liberals would be tied.
According to tradition among observers and advocates, discussions about electoral reform quickly erupted on Tuesday after the federal elections.
Philippe J. Fournier, a political columnist and professor of astrophysics at Cégep Saint-Laurent University in Montreal, as well as founder of the survey-tracking site. 338Canada.com, published seat projections on what Parliament would look like if there had been a proportional representation voting system.
Proportional representation is a general term for systems in which parties obtain seats based on the total number of votes cast by them. There are several types of proportional representation, including mixed member proportional representation, in which voters get two ballots: one for their local representative and one for a party.
Of Fournier projections show that under a proportional representation that makes the total number of votes a party receives proportional to the number of seats it obtains in Parliament, this week’s results would have left the Liberals and Conservatives with 109 seats each; the NDP with 65 seats; the Bloc with 24 seats; the PPC with 21 and the Green Party with 11.
However, if there was proportional representation, voters would likely have cast their vote differently, so such extrapolations should be recognized as hypothetical, says Dennis Pilon, associate professor of politics at York University.
“If you change the voting incentives, then you can change the votes,” he said.
“Many people will comment that our voting system is disciplinary; it puts a lot of barriers in the way voters make a decision, ”he said. But it is a system that this can lead to citizens voting strategically, rather than the party or candidate they support the most, he said.
Under the current “first after post” system, the party with the most votes does not necessarily win the most seats. The election results leave the Liberals with approximately 32.2 percent of the popular vote, which is less than the Conservative party that squeezed 34 percent. And although the NDP has won about 18 percent of the votes cast, it will return to Parliament with 24 seats, behind the Bloc Québécois, which has 32 seats despite receiving about eight percent of the votes.
At the end of the campaign period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he remains “open” to electoral reform. That claim undoubtedly fails with many, given that it was Trudeau’s party that abandoned its promise that the 2015 elections would be the last in Canadian history to operate under the first-past-the-post rule.
Trudeau admitted that the issue is not a priority, arguing that there is a lack of consensus on electoral reform. He added that he does not favor proportional representation because it gives too much weight to marginal parties. A ranked ballot that provides first, second, and third choice is your declared preferred method.
After the Liberals won a majority government in the 2015 elections, they convened a special committee of the Commons to seek voting alternatives. His report was published in late November 2016. But the initiative to change the system was scrapped shortly after, and the party claimed it was due to a lack of consensus on the issue and that it was “not in the best interests” of Canadians. . as it could sow divisions, Trudeau said at the time.
The electoral reform was not mentioned on the platform of the Liberal Party in 2021 nor on that of the Conservatives. The NDP party explains on its platform that it would opt for a mixed proportional system, while the Green party expresses a preference for proportional representation.
Pilon said that at this point in Canadian politics, the head-to-head race between liberals and conservatives would likely have played out similarly if the system had been changed.
However, the differences in this election compared to the 2015 discussions are that the PPC exists and is likely to get more seats under proportional representation, Pilon said.
The PPC party has run on a platform that includes eliminating any funding related to multiculturalism, significantly reducing the number of immigrants and refugees, abandoning work on climate change, and eliminating closures and vaccination passports. White supremacist groups have encouraged their followers to support the PPC.
“This bothers a lot of people,” he said.
Still, Pilon said that depending on how our Parliament works, parties that cannot work with each other don’t have much to say, so their influence on actual politics could be negligible.
Jonathan Rose, a Canadian politics professor at Queen’s University who co-chaired the Citizens’ Assembly on electoral reform, said that if Canada changes its system, it could include a mixed vote that could mitigate concerns about fringe groups having too much to say.
“It is also possible, as some countries have done, that you can have a threshold to obtain representation, so a party must meet a certain threshold. In this election, that would exclude the Greens, for example, ”he said.
Proportional representation systems often encourage the parties to work more together, he said. A public relations system also makes different party interests more transparent, such as more right-wing liberals or left-wing conservatives, he said.
Now that Canada is in another minority government, if the other parties wanted to make electoral reform a priority, it could become important, Rose said.
“We are in the middle of the pandemic and people changing the voting system may not be the top priority, but it is certainly a possibility.”
Western countries have historically changed their voting systems during times of political division, which is being seen in Canada with the conservative-liberal division of voters, Pilon said.
“Most countries have decided to move from a system like ours … when one of the major parties had a run for their money. If we want Canadian parties to take this more seriously … then what we need is increased competition between parties, ”he said.
The Green Party had spent the past decade lobbying liberals for some of their support, and the decline of the Greens is bad news for electoral reform, he said.
When the electoral system begins to harm the main parties, they will show more interest in the reform, he explained. As long as a party feels it has a legitimate chance of winning under the current system, it will be less inclined.
“Conservatives are not going to suddenly adopt public relations … because they think, ‘well, we will win next time,'” he said. “It’s only when they start thinking, ‘We won’t win next time, and we may not win time after that,’ then all of a sudden these parties are looking for something like voting system reform.”