That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Farce majority

Do you ever take a swig of sour milk and say to yourself “Gawwww, goddammit this is awful!” And then you take another swig and say it again? And then you continue guzzling, grimacing, unable to stop yourself? Because if you do, I’ll bet you’re a fan of first-past-the-post.

New Brunswick’s new Premier, David Alward of the provincial Tories, has taken the legislature by 42 seats to the Liberals’ 13. Sounds like a drubbing, although the Tories had just 48.9% of the vote. Congrats to David on your tsunamic victory!

NB has 55 seats in its legislature, meaning that 48.9% Tory support led to 76.4% of the seats in the House. The Liberals, while certainly losing squarely, managed 34.4% popular support, handing them 23.6% of the seats. How many ways can we spell undemocratic?

This is a topical example of FPTP’s psychedelic mathematics, but it is not at all the most extreme example. What of it when Canada’s Greens take 6.8% of the popular vote in the 2008 federal election (just under one million people, or worth a city the size of Calgary), yet they win zero seats for their effort? What of the NDP effectively doubling the number of votes won by the Bloc Québécois in that same election, yet instead of being rewarded for their truly federal vision and their nationwide, 308-constituency campaign, they are indeed punished for it with fewer seats in the House?

This is all old news, I know. Yet, with each swallowing, the taste does not improve. The bulk of people generally tolerate our broken system through any blend of disinterest, confusion, or suspicion that people who talk electoral reform have a trick up their sleeve, and it’s probably some kind of socialistick thing. But surely it’s not a lefty weirdo partisan perspective to look at the electoral arithmetic under FPTP and conclude that the system is patently unfair.

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , ,

One Response

  1. There’s an article on the Globe and Mail’s website that puts the Greens’ situation in even starker perspective: the Green Party received 940,000 votes in the 2008 federal election but won no seats. The Tories got 813,000 votes in Alberta but sent 27 MPs to the House of Commons.

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