Friday August 26, 2016
Electoral reform: Moving beyond first-past-the-post voting system
When the Trudeau Liberals swept to power last fall, they vowed the 2015 election would be the last time Canadians would vote using first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. Trudeau's government has set a deadline of December 1st to introduce electoral reform legislation.
An all-party commons committee has been spending the summer listening to Canadians, probing the big question of how we should change the way we vote.
Arend Lijphart has spent two decades researching the relationship between a country's voting system and its wider social and political culture — not to mention the strength of its democracy.
Lijphart a professor emeritus of political science at the University of California, is also the author of a definitive study on on the relationship and patterns of effective voting systems. On Aug. 22, he advised Ottawa's special committee looking into electoral reform that proportional representation was the best system for Canada.
"What I have found in my research is that systems of proportional representation tend to lead to better outcomes, certainly more democratic outcomes," Lijphart tells The Current's summer host Robyn Bresnahan.
'One of the difficulties I think will be to choose which form of proportional representation.' -Arend Lijphart
Lijphart's study looked at 36 different countries and concluded that "the more countries [that] tend to have proportional election outcomes, the better the effectiveness of government." He points to "control of inflation, control of employment, budget balance" as clear indicators supporting why this model of voting works so well.
"Also the degree of democracy tends to be better — think in terms of voter turnout to the degree that minorities are adequately represented, women represented and so on."
Lijphart stresses proportional representation is very effective in countries with significant cultural religious and other minority populations because they "get representatives elected that reflect their interests and their viewpoints much better than first-past-the-post where it's simply a majority,"
Lijphart hopes Canadians will agree proportional representation is the best way to vote in Canada but says there are still issues to consider.
"One of the difficulties I think will be to choose which form of proportional representation, and there are all kinds of details that need to be ironed out."
Listen to the full conversation including an analyst who pushes for ranked ballots.
This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson, Julian Uzielli and Marc Apollonio.