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Proportional Representation Q&A


TRIBE Member
Ok... so every time we have to have an election, the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system vs Proportional Representation (PR) argument comes up.

On the face of it it PR seems like a good idea.

I am curious about how it would play out on a national scale.

The way I understand it, the reason people gripe about FPTP is because we have more than two parties, so we always have the potential for winners who have less than 51% support in their ridings. Even if it were just the PCs, Libs and NDP, if the NDP gets 1%, then the winner can potentially have less than a popular majority. Given we also have the Bloc, Greens, etc it waters down the potential for a popular majority even further. And people who like the little parties therefore gripe and gripe.

What I'm wondering about here is the endgame with PR. Ok so we switch to PR for our Federal Election. In this, the parties collect their delegates and people have some idea of who could represent them in their riding but here's the crux of the problem. How would MPs be distributed once the election is completed? Say the election results come in and everyone has simply voted for the party they support, because there's no point in voting for a local representative and here's why: say the Libs win with 55%, the Cons have 35% and the NDP, Bloc and Greens split the remaining 10%. What happens? The Parties are told how many MPs they have based on their percentage. Libs get 169, Cons get 108, the NDP, Greens and Bloc all get 10 each.

How are these MPs then distributed across the country? Who decides which riding gets which representative? If every riding voted the same way (55-35-10-10-10), would mean that every riding would end up with a liberal representative? What happens to the opposition MPs? Who do they represent?

Or am I completely confused about this and getting it all wrong. What's the story?


TRIBE Member
I'm not sure either. I think the Netherlands may have this.

More popular and widespread is the practice of run-off votes, sometimes coupled with ranked balloting.

I find that notion of ranked ballots very appealing: under that system, Palacio would be gone, christin greb-something would not have been elected, etc..

This has all the info on the initiative being pushed for here. Q & A • Ranked Ballot Initiative

And surprise! There is a group pushing for proportional representation Fair Vote Campaign 2015 |

Or we could consider the approach suggested by a friend of mine, which goes something like this "most MPs aren't particularly qualified for the job, so why not just call people up to be in parliament for 4 years, give them some basic training and see how they do?"

Radical, but if you've read the Samara institute's "tragedy in the commons", you start to think we might not be much worse off...


TRIBE Member
The biggest benefit is the change making more Canadians feel like their vote counts and that its heard in our democracy.

I think it would go a long way to turn the tide of apathy.