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.

Just Posted

North Okanagan-Shuswap fundraiser delivers for charities

Armstrong Regional Cooperative’s Fuel Good Day raises $10,000 in Vernon, Armstrong and Salmon Arm

Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation rolls out new-look board

New board executive, new and retiring members highlight annual general meeting

Black Mountain / sntsk‘il’ntən Regional Park starts to take shape

Student volunteers from three local schools work on trail building project

BX Ranch event draws solid feedback

“The goal is to get out and talk to the residents who are actively using our parks.”

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia

There was no mention of Russia publicly accepting a state-sponsored conspiracy to help its athletes win Olympic medals by doping.

Nanaimo’s Tilray pot stock continues rising, firm now worth more than $21 billion US

The B.C. company’s shares have risen more than 1,000 % since its initial public offering in July

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Most Read