When the idea of proportional representation was first proposed I thought it appealing and with some merit. Since then, and given the present proposal, I have completely reversed my opinion for several compelling reasons. I list three of them here.
Prop Rep gives the third (and fourth, etc.) or fringe parties unprecedented control over the government and its following years in office. It even dictates who wins the election. Given B.C.’s past voting history and the predictable future, all parties in a three party race often score less than 50 per cent at the polls.
Take for example the distribution:
Party A 48 per cent
Party B 36 per cent
Party C 16 per cent
With Prop Rep these percentages would then become the distribution of seats. One might conclude that the 48 per cent party should govern. No so. It completely depends on who the 16 per cent party chooses. They may well choose the Party B combining their 36 per cent with their own 16 per cent making 52 per cent. It’s completely up to them and who they choose to support. Consequently the choice of who will govern is taken away from the voters and given to the third, or sometimes even the forth, minority party. Anyone who wants their vote to mean something for choosing the government in the future would be wise to vote against Prop Rep.
Furthermore Prop Rep will almost always return a minority government and put the third minority party in a position of balance of power followed by backroom negotiations. The ensuing Confidence and Supply agreements always come at a cost – backroom deals including demands that the tax payer must pay for and that must be met for the governing party to stay in power. Not a credible part of a healthy democracy.
The choice to change to Prop Rep may well be irreversible. Often, in counties and regions that have it, they can’t get rid of it. The fringe parties to which the government is beholden will never allow it. A soon as the government in power breathes a word of regret and a desire to change, these parties pull their support and the government falls.
As others writers have said, think twice before voting for Pro Rep. The current system may not be perfect but still appears to be the best we have.