Good Coverage and a Proportional Question

I’m still getting a lot of blanks stares when I say “blog” and some more when I say one of the first things I do when I wake up is check email and then fire up the feed reader since it’s where I get most of my news.

If the blank starers could turn their eyes to some of the good election coverage on blogs they might start to get it. Case in point, Michael who talks about his un-separatist understading of the Block vote (I agree) and Luke who presents some very good points and analysis concerning the media “calling” the results early and proportional representation. Good stuff on par or better than what can be found in the papers but from people not owned by converged media giants and on blogs where you can discuss their thoughts with them.

I’m not big on politics though so I’ve got a question. In principle I absolutely thing proportional representation is the way to go but how does it work in terms of who gets the actual seats? Does the party decide who they send? Do the representatives get elected but only some of them are part of the “sitting team” their party decides to use?


Michael June 30, 2004

It can work in a number of different ways, and it’s not clear which way things are leaning at the moment.

In a pure proportional system, you’d still have (say) 306 seats in parliament and each party would publish a list of candidates. In some countries the list covers the whole state – Holland – and in others it’s broken down by districts (which are larger than ridings but likely smaller than provinces). When you go and vote, you vote for the party understanding who they propose, and then when the votes are tallied, they divvy up the seats based on the overall proportion of the vote received.

The problem that would take some getting used to here is that in such systems there is no 1-1 correspondence of a specific elected person to a specific riding.

There are also mixed systems, and my feeling is that something along these lines would be more appropriate considering the political history and culture of Canada.

Basically, in a mixed system when you go to the voting booth you have two votes – one for a candidate to represent your riding, the other for a party. The riding winners (who win via a plurality of the votes) sit just as they do now, but the other members are chosen proportionally based on the party vote also on the ballot.

Note the ridings would likely be twice as big as now under a mixed system, as you’d want to balance the riding side of things by the proportional members.

The nice thing about this is that you still have a specific MP to call when you have a pothole or they’re going to close your post office, but you also get the benefits of a proportional system.

Patrick July 1, 2004

Thanks for the detailed answer(s)! Personaly I’ve never had to refer to an MP and I’m not sure I know anyone who has but it does make sense to have a dedicated person so I guess having the “double” system you mention makes more sense although it does seem like wayyyy to many people in there to ever agree on anything ;)

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