Email: herrkemper@aol.com

S. Wampman

Fort Frances Times October 2007

What are the advantages of the 2 different election systems ?
1. First past the post system has the advantage of quick response to the parties as to not vote for them again and give then a smarting hit.
Those of us old enough will remember how far the PC party fell from 151 seats to just 2, although they lost “only” half of their votes. . This was too bad for the woman’s cause, being her the only female Prime Minister ever. With me there are many convinced it wasn not her fault but much more the voters being still mad at Brian Mulroney.
Obviously they had more support than that, but just didn’t win more ridings as first choice of the voters. So if a party can loose seats fast, they are more likely to act on the short term more responsible.
The disadvantage of course is the sometimes huge difference between how many seats a party won and how much percentage of the vote they actually got.
A simplified example: Lets say there are 100 ridings and only two parties, the A party and the B party. In all 100 ridings the As get 51% of the vote and subsequently 100 % of the seats. The Bs got 49% of the vote but not one single seat. One fear with this system that I have is :
Lets imagine a very charistimatic, lets say religious or better guru type person appears on the scene. This person is so good that he fools almost all the people for a short time, being exactly election time. His or her party will easily collect enough votes to garner the absolute majority and within 4 years or so could ruin everything we love. Not possible ? That is how Hitler did it !
2. Proportional system has the advantage of the parties getting exactly as many seat as the % of the vote. One disadvantage is that if a MP is not supported by the majority of his riding, he or she has nothing to fear, as long as they are among the top names on the partys list.
That way they will get into parliament even though they pissed off their electorate.
That takes a little out of the direct response in their riding.
On the other hand, that Guru mentioned above , will probably win a lot of ridings, but the core party voters that always vote for their party will give their party enough votes to get seats over the status quo;, even if it is say only 20%.
Those members , with the other nonguru parties will have a fighting chance in parliament to avoid disaster. Another disadvantage is that this system is very sluggish for change. What I mean is, new ideas, new parties, new movements have a very hard time overcoming the established encrusted paths of the old boys and girls who over the list and thanks to their traditional voters will become Mps again.
Many fear with the proportional system there will be just too many parties in parliament for it to work properly or at all. One way to avoid that of course would be a set minimum % a party needs to qualify for instance 3 or 5%. Still, it would be hard for one party to get a majority, which is true, but just like the PC right now has to make backroom deals to keep governing, the party with the most Mps will have to join up with a other party and both will have to make compromises, then again a percentage of a whole is better than 100% of nothing. Which system do I favor ? The proportional system will give the Green Party at least a 10x boost in their ability to make changes for a better Canada.