Declaration of Voter's Rights

Friday, September 12, 2014

FPTP Produces Phony Majorities in the Majority of Elections

This Letter to the Editor was submitted to papers around the province in time for Democracy Week.
Let's imagine in 2011 you were appointed the sole UN observer of a democratic election in a country. You watched closely for bribing or bullying of voters and witnessed none. You declared it a fair election and yet you were perplexed. Over 60% of the voters voted against the party that won a huge majority. Which country's election did you observe? Would you be surprised to learn the country was Canada?  
Since WWI, Canada's first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system has produced four legitimate majorities—the other twelve have been phony majorities. A phony majority holds the majority of seats in the House of Commons with less than a majority share of the popular vote.    
Ten Canadian commissions, assemblies and reports that have recommended we replace FPTP with proportional representation (PR). Countries that use PR find it changes politics from combative winner-take-all situations to cooperative everybody-wins environments. More cooperation usually leads to more diversity; more women and minorities, in the legislature. As a bonus, more people vote because every vote counts.      
If you think phony majorities are undemocratic, during Democracy Week September 15 to 21 spread the idea of using PR to ensure a party's seat-share reflects its vote-share. Ask people to help make 2015 our last unfair federal election by voting only for candidates committed to bringing about electoral reform through PR. For PR resources visit fairvote.ca or your local library.    
Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Chapter
Shellbrook, Saskatchewan