Government     The Electoral System
and Politics
True or False

1. Every vote is equal – it doesn’t matter who you
   support or where you live

   False – Number of votes...
True or False

2. Election results are fair – what voters say at the
   ballot box is the government we get

   False – We...
True or False

3. A party must win a majority of votes to form a
   majority government

   False – Majority governments r...
True or False

4. The Government is always formed by the party
   that wins the most votes

  False – NDP in BC, PQ in Quebec
True or False

5. Voters who oppose the government are always
   represented in Parliament by one or more
   opposition pa...
True or False

6. Canada has more women in Parliament than
   either Turkmenistan, Laos, or Eritrea

  False – All of thes...
True or False

7. Canada ranked 108th in voter turnout in the
   1990s

   False – Canada ranked 109th
True or False

8. Most older European nations use antiquated 12th
   century voting systems, while Canada uses a
   modern...
FPTP
•   Single Member Plurality – Winner take all, First
    Past the Post (FPTP)

•   Within a riding, the candidate
   ...
FPTP
What is a majority government in Canada?

•   Government is formed by the party with a
    majority (50%+) of the sea...
FPTP
                              60
Example: 1 riding, 2
candidates                    55

•   Candidate with most      ...
FPTP

Example: 1 riding,
multiple candidates

•   Winner just needs
    the most votes, not
    majority of votes

•   Win...
Problems with FPTP
•   Candidates are elected with less than a majority

•   Rarely results in true majority – phony major...
Problems with FPTP
• Distorted results, favours large parties

• Regional disparities – a regional party, like the
  Bloc ...
Distorted Results
• 580,000 people voted for the Green Party and
  elected 0 members, Less than 500,000 people
  voted Lib...
2006 Election Results
Average votes per party needed to gain a
seat in the 2004 federal election:

    Bloc Quebecois     ...
Proportional Representation

 • A voting system that results in parties receiving
   number of seats in proportion with th...
Concerns about PR

• Unstable government

• Small parties will rule

• Proliferation of small parties

• Confusing
2006 Results - PR Style

    Party        Popular Vote   FPTP Seats   PR Seats

Conservatives       36.3%          124    ...
PR in BC
• In the 1996 provincial election, the NDP won a majority
  with less popular vote than the Liberals (39% vs 42%)...
Who else is using PR?

• 80+ countries

• Canada is one of the few countries with a
  modern democratic system still using...
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Electoral System

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Electoral System

  1. 1. Government The Electoral System and Politics
  2. 2. True or False 1. Every vote is equal – it doesn’t matter who you support or where you live False – Number of votes required to elect a member can be different for different parties and regions
  3. 3. True or False 2. Election results are fair – what voters say at the ballot box is the government we get False – We often get distorted results because of First-Past-The-Post (FPTP)
  4. 4. True or False 3. A party must win a majority of votes to form a majority government False – Majority governments rarely get a majority of the popular vote
  5. 5. True or False 4. The Government is always formed by the party that wins the most votes False – NDP in BC, PQ in Quebec
  6. 6. True or False 5. Voters who oppose the government are always represented in Parliament by one or more opposition parties False – Liberals in New Brunswick won every seat with 60% of the vote
  7. 7. True or False 6. Canada has more women in Parliament than either Turkmenistan, Laos, or Eritrea False – All of these countries have more women in Parliament than Canada
  8. 8. True or False 7. Canada ranked 108th in voter turnout in the 1990s False – Canada ranked 109th
  9. 9. True or False 8. Most older European nations use antiquated 12th century voting systems, while Canada uses a modern 20th century voting system False – Most European countries use 20th century voting systems. Canada uses a system developed in the 12th century
  10. 10. FPTP • Single Member Plurality – Winner take all, First Past the Post (FPTP) • Within a riding, the candidate with the most votes wins the riding or seat • Party with the most seats forms the government
  11. 11. FPTP What is a majority government in Canada? • Government is formed by the party with a majority (50%+) of the seats in the House of Commons Do they receive the majority of the popular vote? • Very rarely
  12. 12. FPTP 60 Example: 1 riding, 2 candidates 55 • Candidate with most 50 votes win 45 • Winner will always have majority of the 40 vote % of Vote Candidate 1 Candidate 2
  13. 13. FPTP Example: 1 riding, multiple candidates • Winner just needs the most votes, not majority of votes • Winner rarely gets majority of the votes Candidate 1 Candidate 2 Candidate 3 Candidate 4 Candidate 5
  14. 14. Problems with FPTP • Candidates are elected with less than a majority • Rarely results in true majority – phony majorities • More votes for the losers than winners • Wasted votes – 6 million in an average federal election • Fewer women elected – 20.6%
  15. 15. Problems with FPTP • Distorted results, favours large parties • Regional disparities – a regional party, like the Bloc Quebecois can do very well with a relatively small vote • Promotes strategic voting • Lower voter turnout
  16. 16. Distorted Results • 580,000 people voted for the Green Party and elected 0 members, Less than 500,000 people voted Liberal in the Maritimes and elected 22 members • In 2000 in Ontario 2.3 million votes for Liberals elected 100 members, 2.2 million votes for other parties elected only 3 members • In 1993, the Bloc forms the official opposition but is actually fourth in popular vote
  17. 17. 2006 Election Results Average votes per party needed to gain a seat in the 2004 federal election: Bloc Quebecois 30,966 Liberals 36,675 Conservatives 40,350 NDP 111,397 Green Party 0 = 580,816
  18. 18. Proportional Representation • A voting system that results in parties receiving number of seats in proportion with the popular vote they receive – every vote counts • A party receiving 40% of the vote will receive 40% of the seats
  19. 19. Concerns about PR • Unstable government • Small parties will rule • Proliferation of small parties • Confusing
  20. 20. 2006 Results - PR Style Party Popular Vote FPTP Seats PR Seats Conservatives 36.3% 124 113 Liberals 30.1% 103 93 NDP 17.5% 29 59 Bloc Quebecois 10.5% 51 31 Green Party 4.5% 0 12
  21. 21. PR in BC • In the 1996 provincial election, the NDP won a majority with less popular vote than the Liberals (39% vs 42%) • Gordon Campbell (Liberal) elected in 2001 committed to reviewing voting system • Citizen’s assembly formed in 2004, reviewed voting systems and rejected FPTP • Referendum on May 17, 2005 – 57.5% voted for change
  22. 22. Who else is using PR? • 80+ countries • Canada is one of the few countries with a modern democratic system still using FPTP • Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, Scotland, Norway, Australia, Wales…

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