Thursday, May 1, 2014

Proportional Representation (true voting) in a nutshell

Proportional Representation is a complicated name for a simple idea: that parties should get the same percent of seats they got in votes.

In the last election, under First-Past-the-Post, Harper got 40% of the votes and 54% of the seats, giving him 100% of the power.

In a real democracy, an actual majority of voters is represented in government, not a 40% minority party. FPP produces an insane distortion of the people’s will. Harper only earned 40% of the seats. That’s how many he should’ve received.

True Voting

A better name for PR might be “true voting”: voters get what they actually voted for!

Since people vote for a party and a person to represent them, there are three ways to get true voting:

  • Party-list PR: With this system, parties put out lists of candidates who will get seats the people award parties. These candidates are scrutinized by the people and the media before the election and affect how people vote. Parties put out lists in each province to ensure regional representation. This is the most widely used kind of true voting.

  • Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP): This is a combination of our existing system and party-list PR. People vote for a local candidate associated with a party, and a party itself. The winning candidates get seats. Additional seats are awarded to parties to ensure they get the same percent of seats they got in votes.

  • Single Transferable Vote (STV): This system creates large ridings that have many MPs instead of one. People rank candidates — who belong to a party — by number. If there are 5 members per riding, a party that gets 20% of the vote gets 1 seat; 60%, 3 seats. This is a great way to get a local representative you voted for. Over all, parties get the number of seats they earned.


Whatever system of PR we use, we will get much better regional representation than the distorted landslide results we get under FPP. True voting will also make your vote really count.

True voting will put an end to the minority-party dictatorships we have to suffer through under FPP. And it will save Canada from extremists like Stephen Harper who have vowed to change our country beyond recognition — against the will of Canadians.


  1. All true. However, you refer to "lists in each province to ensure regional representation" as a part of both party-list PR and MMP. To be clear, the lists are in each province or region. Scotland has regional lists in each group of 16 MPs, Wales in 12. So in Canada, you could picture Ontario with nine regions, such as: one for Central Toronto--Scarborough, one for Northern Toronto--Etobicoke, one for York and Durham Regions, one for Peel--Halton, one for Hamilton--Waterloo--Niagara, one for Ottawa--Cornwall--Pembroke, one for London--Windsor--Brant, one for Central and Mid-East Ontario, and one for Northern Ontario. A region with 14 MPs might have nine local MPs and five additional regional MPs.

    1. Thanks for the clarification.

      I think the best chance we have of bringing real democracy to Canada is by letting Canadians decide. That is with a 3 x 3 referendum with a runoff vote.

      The 3 main voting systems are: PR, ranked ballot voting and FPTP. The 3 PR systems are: party-list, MMP and STV. The runoff vote will have the top two systems and top two versions of PR to ensure a full system is chosen by a majority.

      If we let an unelected citizens' assembly choose everything for us, most Canadians whose choice is not on the ballot will opt for the status quo. This is the reason there have been 5 failed two-way referendums in Canada and the UK. Even with PR, there are people who will vote for the status quo if their particular version is not on the ballot.

      By putting all the chips on the table, it will force voters to choose the lesser of evils knowing their option is no longer viable. New Zealand had a similar two-referendum process. But they gave FPTP a bigger advantage than was warranted.

      It takes democracy to get democracy. If a federal referendum fails, it will be decades before another chance comes along.


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