Tyee poll shows overwhelming support for proportional representation

By Sebastian Salamanca
Published June 20, 2013 01:23 pm     http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/06/20/TyeePollPR/

Results of a Tyee poll show major support for moving to a proportional representation system in Canada, with almost 90 per cent of participants saying they strongly support it.

Of 1,633 participants, only 61 people expressed opposition to a more proportional electoral system. Nine said they are neutral and a vast majority, 1,553 people, supported the idea.

Proportional representation, or PR, is a type of electoral system that attempts to create a representative body (like a parliament, legislature, or council) where the number of seats won by a party is proportionate to the number of votes received.

This contrasts with the Canadian case where, in the last federal election, the Conservative Party earned 100 per cent of the decision-making power with only 39 per cent of the popular vote. Similarly, in the recent B.C. election, the BC Liberals earned a majority of seats in the legislature with only 45 per cent of the popular vote.

However, in more proportional electoral systems, a party that earns 30 per cent of the vote earns roughly 30 per cent of the seats. The idea is that the proportion of seats won by a political party matches the proportion of the total vote for that party. Countries like Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Russia and Italy have adopted PR systems.

When asked what are the virtues of moving to a PR system the poll’s participants were far from reaching a consensus: 74 per cent think the biggest advantage is that their votes would be more effective, while 71 per cent said it is the fairness of the system. Following very closely, the cooperative policy-making across party lines, ending concentration of power, and voter equality were all options supported, with 69 per cent of the participants.

The Tyee Barometer polls are only intended as a quick and engaging non-scientific snapshot of readers’ opinions, and they are not a representative sampling of B.C. opinion.

However, there have been serious efforts to move to this system in the past. Fair Vote Canada has been a long-time advocate for a more proportional electoral system by showing disadvantages of the current system and conducting polls that showed majority support for a PR system. Other political sectors like the NDP have called for a more proportional electoral system in Canada.

Sebastian Salamanca is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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