Proportional Represenation versus Plurality

In IS210 we will discuss the relative merits of the two most frequently instituted electoral systems–proportional representation and plurality (also called majority or “first-past-the-post” electoral systems.

In advance, here is a chart that I’ve created, which shows the electoral results (in terms of number of seats won in the House of Commons) of the 2011 Canadian Federal election. The bottom of the chart contains the actual number of seats won, while the top lists the hypothetical number of seats each party would have won if Canada’s electoral system were one of proportional representation. So, Canada’s electoral system is working as it should, correct?


3 thoughts on “Proportional Represenation versus Plurality”

  1. I think that minority governments are actually better for democracy, they make parties actually work together. It would be nice to see a new system in Canada but I don’t see it happening. As each government says, they would need to open up the constitution and they will not do that because of Quebec, so i guess we stuck in this mess for eternity.

  2. While it may be more difficult to make quick decisions – i.e.: in states of emergency- in a government that represents many political parties, I think the first-pass-the-post system does not adequately represent the interests of the population. Especially for a country as diverse and multicultural as Canada, one should see, in my opinion, greater political diversity. According to Arend Lijphart, a country that utilizes a proportional representation – parliamentary system is more stable in the long term, as the population has been represented to a greater degree.

  3. I believe there is not absolute right or wrong answer on which one is a better system.
    But under single-member districts in Canada’s case, there are many wasted votes in every election, and those waster votes mean voters’ will is abandoned by the system and not able to be represented in the government.
    If single-member districts system in Canada is well adapted, there should not be a huge difference between PR and first-past-the-post, however it is the case in Canada, so in my opinion, Canada’s electoral system is not well adopted or maybe can I say this system is not suitable for Canada

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