B.C. Attorney General David Eby (left) and Premier John Horgan revealed the choices available in the referendum on proportional representation set for this fall, May 7, 2018. (Black Press files)

Proportional representation means more B.C. parties, coalitions

Fraser Institute study examines voting patterns in 30 countries

Expect more political parties, some driven by single issues, more coalition governments and more waiting for final election results if B.C. voters opt to change to a proportional representation system this fall.

Those are the main findings of an international survey of 30 countries, comparing how B.C.’s current voting system stacks up with options being offered in a mail-in referendum set for this fall.

Jurisdictions like B.C. that use first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting systems elect an average of 2.5 parties each election, compared to 4.6 parties on average with proportional representation (PR) voting systems, the Fraser Institute reported Thursday after reviewing election data from 30 countries between 2000 and 2017.

Coalition governments happen 87 per cent of the time in PR systems, but only 23 per cent of elections under FPTP systems, the survey found. Forming coalitions is one reason why results take an average of 50 days under PR, and 32 days after ballots are counted under a mixed PR system.

“Voters should be aware of the trade-offs of each electoral system before making such an important choice that could fundamentally change the way governments are elected and run,” said Lydia Miljan, associate professor of political science at the University of Windsor and co-author of the study.

“Moving to a form of PR would fracture the provincial legislature and lead to increased uncertainty, not only for voters but also potential investors who may look for more stable jurisdictions.”

VIDEO: Visualizing a new voting system for B.C.

COLUMN: No time for maps in rush to referendum

B.C.’s NDP minority government is holding the mail-in referendum to meet the terms of its governing agreement with the B.C. Green Party. The three-MLA Greens are not in a formal coalition with the NDP, but have agreed to support Premier John Horgan’s government as long as the terms of their deal are kept up.

This year’s referendum has been arranged by B.C. Attorney General David Eby, who determined the ballot and the rules. There no minimum turnout required to have a valid result, a simple majority of votes cast required, and no regional requirement weighting for sparsely populated rural areas as B.C.’s previous two referenda had in 2005 and 2009.

Elections B.C. has selected an official ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ committee for the vote, to persuade people during the voting period, which starts Oct. 22 and ends on Nov. 30. Each committee has been provided with $500,000 to make their case, and allowed to fundraise an additional $200,000.

The first referendum question asks voters if they prefer the current FPTP system, which declares the candidate with the most votes the winner in each constituency, or a PR system. The second question offers a choice of three new systems, designed to make the share of seats more closely match the share of total votes.

The PR options are:

• Dual member proportional, where neighbouring pairs of districts in B.C. would be combined into one two-member constituencies, except for the larger rural districts, which would remain unchanged.

• Mixed member proportional, which combines single-member districts with party list candidates, added to give each party the number of seats determined by their share of the province-wide vote in an election.

• Rural-urban proportional representation, with multi-member districts for urban and semi-urban areas, with voters choosing their MLA on a ranked ballot. In rural areas, a mixed-member proportional system using candidate lists chosen by parties would be used.

Voters will not have an official map of the new voting districts when they make their choice. If voters choose to change to a new system, the district boundaries would then be determined by the independent Electoral Boundaries Commission.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureProportional representation

Just Posted

Helping our community during COVID-19

A high school student’s perspective

The buoys are back in town

Watershed Wanderings column by Lake Windermere Ambassadors

Invermere council okay with ‘reverse grad march’ idea

Nothing finalized and complications aplenty, but Invermere council agrees to grad march idea

101-year-old man targets 101 block fundraising walk for food bank

A centenarian in Invermere has embarked on a new adventure to raise money for the food bank.

Wings Over the Rockies encourages nature viewing during pandemic

Three local photographers and Wings supporters offer nature viewing tips.

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Most Read