Canada's Electoral System

Essay by suckulantpeachUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2004

download word file, 9 pages 4.6

Downloaded 80 times

For decades, academics and political leaders have analyzed existing electoral systems and, consequently, argued about the optimal way to translate votes into seats in the most democratic fashion.

Increasing legitimacy and democracy within an electoral system are often viewed as the foundation for reform, and recent years have seen a growing number of Canadians questioning the legitimacy of Canada's first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system and the fashion in which it regionalizes political party representation in Parliament. Canada's electoral system provides the strengths of a stable, majority government with a direct link between representatives and electors. However, its strengths are often counteracted with its numerous weaknesses, including the encouragement of regional divisions and the distortion of seat allocation in election outcomes.

Quebec in the 1980's saw Canada's only experience with electoral reform, from which much can be learned about the coordinated efforts necessary for reform to take place. After assessing Canada's FPTP system and its leading alternative, proportional representation (PR), mixed member proportional (MMP) under PR can be seen as a viable alternative to FPTP.

Under MMP, the benefits of PR's proportionality and FPTP's stability and accountability are achieved, resulting in a system where the needs of the citizens are accurately represented in Parliament through MP's elected in single member districts.

The structure of Canada's electoral system has resulted in diminished national unity due to regional divisions and the distortion of seat allocation, and the adoption of MMP would provide Canadians with an accountable government accurately reflective of the needs and wants of the electorate.

Although the last two decades has seen an increase in public discontent with government, politicians, and the legitimacy of Canada's electoral system, there still exists many who support a system that continues to produce certainty and stability in Canada. The Westminster approach of responsible government is...