Calling an election shouldn’t be a snap
Letter to the Telegram: May 3rd, 2019
The decision by Premier Dwight Ball to call a snap election in May, despite the existence of fixed-date election laws which led us all to believe until recently that an election would be held this fall, raises serious questions about our democratic process.
In this current election, the number of candidates has fallen to a historic low, with many ridings reduced to essentially two-way races.
In our flawed “first-past-the-post” system, this means that a candidate needs 50 per cent to win. When there are many candidates and parties, the percentage needed to win falls significantly. For example, in the recent P.E.I. election, 80 per cent of winning candidates had less than 50 per cent of the vote; six had less that 40 per cent and one had less than 30 per cent.
But here, Ball has managed to arrange an election where most of his candidates would need 50 per cent to win.More importantly, his snap election decision highlights a problem in our democratic process.
The idea of a fixed election date was designed to remove the advantage that snap elections supposedly give the governing party.But clearly, it hasn’t worked that way; the premier still does what he wants. In any case, fixed dates belong to a republican system of government, not a parliamentary one, where the government stands or falls according to the will of the elected legislature.
The problem of the incumbent’s advantage can be easily fixed by simply increasing the notice of an election to three months, or 100 days. I heard this solution several years ago from a retired Supreme Court Justice, who gave great arguments for this change.
To our three leaders; will you commit to removing the fixed-date legislation and replacing it with increasing the notice of election to three months?