- the Conservative Party got seven times as many votes as the Green Party but 83 times as many seats?
- the New Democrats received less votes than the Liberals but got four times as many seats?
- the Conservatives have a very strong majority government, with twice as many seats as all the other parties combined, in spite of only two out of every five voters voting Conservative?
- only 43% of eligible voters chose to cast a ballot?
First, it’s pretty obvious that it produces seriously unbalanced results. The most disadvantaged are minority parties, in this case the Greens, who will never get a truly representative voice in government. Their supporters are simply too spread out across the province.
Secondly, as long as there is only one party on the right, in this case the Conservatives, they will have an advantage. That’s because those who don’t see themselves as having conservative values increasingly will split their vote between the two other dominant parties, the NDP and the Liberals.
Thirdly, as the NDP continues to move more and more towards the centre, it’s very possible that working class voters will move over to the Conservatives. That phenomenon has already happened in Europe and the United States and many feel that the NDP’s anti-trucker performance during the Convoy protest will accelerate that shift here.
All of the above suggest that it is in the interest of, not just the Green Party and the NDP, but also the Liberals to push for some sort of proportional representation system. Will it happen? Probably not. It’s doubtful that the big money backers of the Liberal party will go along with it. They, of course, don’t care what party gets in as long as they can control its leadership. Proportional representation, with its tendency towards coalition governments, sometimes among multiple parties, makes that control more difficult.
However, the disproportionate way our current electoral system can favour one party, and the powers that back it, is not our biggest concern at Democracy Alert. It’s that 43% voter turnout that is most worrying.
One explanation often heard is that people with minority political views in their constituency don’t bother to vote because they feel their vote will largely be a waste of time and effort. That could certainly apply to Green supporters everywhere.
But what if the bigger reason for the low voter turnout is political apathy – a belief that democracy will just continue to roll along smoothly without citizen participation?
At this moment in our history, as transnational institutions exert more and more control over national policies, and as the rich get richer and more powerful, this is not the time to go limp on democracy.