Friday, December 30, 2005

PR: Democracy you can really trust

John Ibbitson, in an article in today's Globe, PR: Democracy you can really trust (subscriber only online), predicts that we will once again have a minority government, with the Bloc Québecois holding the balance of power and the NDP not, although the NDP will certainly get more votes that the Bloc.

This means that our unrepresentative voting system is actually creating "unstable Parliaments in which larger parties are held hostage to the agendas of smaller, special-interest parties, leading to repeated political crises and frequent elections." This is what the critics accuse proportional representation of doing, but in fact it is our current system which is preventing the formation of a stable government coalition.

"So it's time for opponents of proportional representation to explain themselves," says Ibbitson.

"The point is that aspiring prime ministers would have to put their coalition cabinets together before they met in Parliament, complete with manifestos and memorandums of agreement, rather than lurching from Throne Speech crisis to budget crisis to Gomery crisis to dissolution, which was the history of the 38th Parliament."

Well, exactly.

Ibbitson goes on to point out that, under our winner-take-all system, the Bloc could virtually sweep Québec with half the votes, making it impossible for either the Liberals or Conservatives to find elected Québec members to put into their cabinet. With a fair voting system, the 50% of Québeckers who vote for federalist parties would also be represented in Parliament.

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