Do you agree with Proportional Representation?
Here in Canada (as well as in the UK from what I’ve heard) there has been debate on whether we should abandon the plurality voting system (first-past-the-post) in favour of proportional representation. Personally I believe that Proportional Representation should be implemented. I’ll use Canada’s and Britain’s example.
In Canada our government is dominated by a minority Conservative government (125 out of 308 seats) led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper with the support of the Quebec Separtist Bloc QuebÃ©cois (51 seats) in legislation. The standard argument against PR is that PR will pratically always result in coalition government (unless there is an absolute majority which is very difficult to obtain). However it is not like plurality voting is resistant to coalitions as seen in Canada’s two back-to-back minority governments.
Opponents of PR tend to argue against it because of “kingmaker” third-parties which have a disproportionate amount of power in coalitions. But what about Bloc Quebecois who don’t even have the majority vote of Quebec (despite having 51 of their 75 seats)? They are actually going to have some of their separtist agendas put to the forefront because they have allied with Harper’s Conservatives. The Bloc, a party that only got 10.5% of the national vote, has a disporportionate amount of stroke in Parliament. Therefore it is not like first-past-the-post is “kingmaker-proof”.
In Britain, they have an example where Labour had only 35% of the popular vote but 55% of the seats in parliament. With only slightly more than a third of the national vote, they are free to war-monger in Iraq and keep sucking up to Bush when the majority of Britons are anti-iraq war. is this fair? I think not. While coalition governments in PR require compromise and can give a “kingmaker” role to smaller parties (note: this happens in plurality voting too), its better than giving full powers to one party who can do whatever they want against the will of the people (only 35% voted Labour and a majority are anti-Iraq war).
I propose that the best possible system (obviously not any system is perfect) would perhaps be Mixed Member Proportional Representation. This involves having a party composition in Parliament equivalent to the popular vote. They should then slap on a 5% Popular Vote Threshold to be eligible for winning seats to avoid there being a huge mass of fringe parties (especially the BNP) in Parliament, which has posed a big problem for Italy and Israel’s political stability. However I believe that half of these seats should be contested in single-member constituents in the traditional plurality voting method so that geographical accountability is still in place for MPs. As a result half of the MPs in Parliament will be electorate reps, half will be list MPs (to bring the parliament back to proportion).
This way in the end while Parliament will be proportional to the vote, each riding will still have an elected MP that can be held accountable for their riding. New Zealand currently has a system like this in place and I think it would be the best possible system for Canada and Britain. This system was also in place in Germany since 1946 and has worked well for them. What do you think? This would please the Britons who hate the fact that Labour can do whatever they want without a true majority.
It would also please myself because then I could actually vote in conscience for a party I support, being the Green Party in Canada (who would have made the 5% threshold if people actually voted on conscience). In the last election we had the choice between Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Green and Marxist-Leninist in my riding and I abstained the vote because it was a Liberal-stronghold. Voting for Green would have been a wasted vote anyway and considering Liberal was a “lesser of the two main evils” to myself, I just simply abstained just like many frustrated voters do.