The current electoral system could be improved. Do any of these make sense to you?
- A flip-flop from one 'ruling party' in government, to its opposite, every 10 years or so. Under Proportional Representation, we would see 'course corrections' rather than wild swings from one party to another, leading to more consistent sharing of power.
- Right now, my vote for a good local candidate implies that I support their party leader to govern the province. I might want to vote for a great local candidate from the Purple Party, but I really dislike the Purple Party leader, and would prefer that the Yellow Party leader becomes Premier. Under the current system, there is no way I can accurately reflect my desire. With MMP, citizens have two votes.
- The current system elects ineffective oppositions - an opposition of just 1 person (PEI after the 2000 election) or 4 people (PEI in 2003 and 2007) isn't strong enough to truly 'hold the government to account'. Sure, opposition parties can 'oppose' and 'complain' about the government in the media, but when it comes to a vote, this doesn't have any impact on government decision-making. Proportional representation will ensure strong oppositions, which leads to more government transparency, and learning to find acceptable compromises through negotiation, when important decisions are made.
- A culture of competition defines our current politics, rather than collaboration and negotiation.
- More than 50% of votes are 'wasted' - they don't contribute to electing someone. This means that the resulting government would have been exactly the same if half the voters simply stayed at home, and didn't show up! Islanders tend to be very politically engaged, but it's understandable that many people feel like their vote hasn't really made a difference after election day is over.
- Many voters feel a pressure to 'vote strategically' - instead of voting for the party that best represents their values, voters feel like they have to vote for someone else, to prevent their worst nightmare from being elected.
- Unfair majorities - majority governments can form too easily, even if they only have the support of a minority of the population. With a majority, a party has 100% of the power - they can push through decisions that they want, for the 4 years that they are in government, without needing to consult with anyone else. There is no need for governments to be open and transparent. In Proportional Representation, majority governments can still be formed, but only if they have a true majority of support from the population.
- "First-past-the-post" could also be called "winner takes all": it's like a horse-race, but there is no second or third place... the winning party gets all the power, for the next four years. And the voting population of citizens is divided into 'winners' and 'losers'. Under Proportional Representation, every voter wins.
What are the benefits of Proportional Representation?
FairVoteCanada has a great page reviewing the evidence in favour of Proportional Representation: www.fairvote.ca/evidence
Researcher Arend Lijphart, a worldrenowned political scientist, spent his career studying various features of democratic life in majoritarian and Proportional Representation democracies. In his landmark study 'Patters of Democracy, he compared 36 democracies over 55 years. Looking at a number of specific indicators, Lijphart found that in countries using proportional systems,
- Voter turnout was higher by 7.5 percentage points, when contextual factors are taken into account.
- Government policies were closer to the view of the median voter.
- Citizens were more satisfied with the performance of their countries’ democratic institutions, even when the party they voted for was not in power.
- There was a small increase in the number of parties in Parliament.
- The share of women elected to legislators was 8 percentage points higher.
- Scores were higher on measures of political participation and civil liberties
Regardless of which party you personally support, Proportional Representation is good for you, the voter. Your vote counts equally, every single time. Every election, there will be a voice in government that your vote helped to elect.
Oppositions are always relevant and are part of negotiation, rather than simply opposing for the sake of opposing, and being totally shut out of government decision-making until it is 'their turn' at the wheel.
Proportional Representation helps to make government friendlier and more collaborative. With Proportional Representation, the government will truly reflect, at every election, the democratic will of every island voter.
Proportional Representation means that if a party has the support of 20% of the population, they will get 20% of the seats in the legislature. 40% of the votes = 40% of the seats, and so on. Independents can also run.
It's fair, and it encourages a culture of cooperation and collaboration in government.
Proportional Representation is already used to elect governments in over 90 countries, including Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Germany. If it's good enough for them, why can't we use it on P.E.I., and in Canada, too?