Both proportional representation and first past the post require a majority to form government.
Neither system provides complete voter satisfaction that our vote counts any more or less one way or the other.
Both systems have winners and losers.
But one thing is different. Where first past the post requires a high degree of organization and higher number of votes in order to win local representation; proportional representation’s lower electoral barriers will motivate ambitious single-issue parties who seek the opportunity to publicly voice their agenda to run for a seat in government.
Even with a five per cent threshold, a proportional representation voting system would increase the number of parties going to the B.C. legislature in the next election.
According to the last election statistics, the Liberals earned 35 per cent of the popular vote and NDP 39 per cent. The Greens, earned 16 per cent, the B.C. Conservatives had seven per cent, the Christian Heritage party had 6.2 per cent and the Libertarian party garnered one per cent of the popular vote.
That would immediately double the B.C. Legislature to five or six parties; each party with their own budgets for offices with staff expenses and more MLA salaries and benefits. World Bank studies show each party in a ruling coalition adds 0.5 per cent cost to the GDP and have poorer legislative record.
There is a lot of political ambition out there.
As of May 2018, Elections B.C. has 26 parties officially registered and entitled to be on the ballot if they follow the rules. The higher electoral threshold required by first past the post has kept our political landscape down to three major parties.
It is important for all of us to think about this electoral reform question that has been foisted upon us and try, as best we can to vote a studied-opinion for everyone’s sake.
And remember, sure we could experiment with a new voting system here in B.C., but remember regret still exists, two years later about Brexit; because a referendum is like a gun. Once you pull the trigger, you can’t put the bullet back. This is the problem with the mistake of Brexit. There is no road back.
Our democracy is already healthy. Proportional representation will fragment B.C.’s future political landscape, so no one ever again has a majority and we get a string of minority governments, where advocates claim more compromise will happen.
However, the talent to foster that compromise is the exception, not the rule. Decisions tend to be short term, because no party knows if it will be in the next coalition. And election promises are always put aside to form the ruling coalition.
The NDP and Green’s obvious gerrymandering to manipulate the win they seek will forever stain them in the eyes of British Columbians; nonetheless, it is very important for all of us to make sure we fill it out and mail it in.
Jon Peter Christoff