An election system determines how
individual votes are counted.
Given the same votes, different election
systems will give different results.
Election systems impact the party systems
in place and the type of democracy in a
First Past the Post
The first past the post election system is
used exclusively in Canada along with
Britain and the USA.
Simply, in this system the candidate with
the most votes wins.
No matter the number of candidates, the
plurality is always the winner, NOT the
person with the majority of votes.
Normally called Ridings, or Constituencies
Each is a geographic area with
approximately the same number of
Each party runs a candidate in as many
ridings as they wish to.
The candidate in each riding with the most
votes wins the riding, and becomes the
MP for that constituency.
The MP must represent both their
constituents and the party when they take
a seat in the House of Commons.
The Prime Minister
In the end, the party with the most seats
(ridings won) becomes the government.
The leader of the winning party becomes
The Prime Minister is also an MP
somewhere. He must be elected in his
Pro/Con First Past the Post
Tradition Exaggerates the vote.
Simple Popular vote and
Creates strong seats do not coincide.
majority governments Limited choice
Fewer parties with Creates majority
greater national governments
What’s the Problem?
Popular Vote Seats
Liberal 46% Liberal 72
Conservative 34% Conservative 24
NDP 15% NDP 7
Other 5% Other 0
Do the Liberals deserve a majority
What is Run-Off/Preferential?
In a run-off, if no candidate wins 50%+1 of
the votes, the bottom candidate is
dropped, a second vote is held.
Candidates are dropped, and votes held
until someone has 50%+1 of the vote.
Ensures the winner has a majority.
Used in party leader elections and in other
countries (eg. France)
Preferential ballots compress the run-off
process into a single vote.
Voters rank candidates, instead of
choosing a single candidate.
No majority = candidates dropped.
A dropped candidate’s votes are
redistributed according it its ‘number 2s’.
Process continues until someone gets a
What is it?
Proportional Representation (PR) comes in
many different forms.
In its pure form, PR awards seats according to
The percentage of popular vote equals the
percentage of seats won for a party.
There are no constituencies. People vote by
party alone and the parties chose the people.
Popular Vote Seats (FPTP) Seats (PR)
Liberal 46% 72 47
Conservative 34% 24 35
NDP 15% 7 15
Other 5% 0 6
Under PR no party has a majority (unlike
The minor parties (Other) now have seats.
Affects of PR
Minority governments become the norm.
Smaller parties elect members.
More smaller, specialized parties exist.
Greater chance of government collapse.
More fractured politics, but also more
cooperation between parties.
Fairer, more reflective results
Loss of the local MP, no person to call
PR can take many forms:
Pureof list – eg. Israel
Mixed member – eg. Germany