Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our broken democracy. . . .

Canadian Democracy is broken and the majority of Canadians don't seem to understand this or care enough to do something about it. We live in a political system wherein a third, or slightly over a third, of the population can elect a party that rules like a de facto dictatorship. Though there is a growing number of people in Canada who are aware that we have a problem, we are still in a minority and any talk of an alternative voting system brings so much negative press from the two main parties that reform has no hope whatsoever at the moment.

Many people who believe in reform were buoyed by recent event in the UK. And it is nice to see that the British seem to possess a fairly high level of political maturity, and certainly a higher level than we possess here. Unlike our Prime Minister, no one on the British political landscape suggested that a coalition of parties amounted to a coup. Even Mr. Cameron, who is not my favorite guy, said nothing untoward when the Libdems negotiated with the Labour Party which could have kept Cameron out of Downing Street. Our Prime Minister, and his cronies, actually had the gall to misrepresent our entire mode of constitutional government when there was a chance that they might be taken from power by a majority of the elected representatives in the country.

But the situation in the UK is nothing to cheer about because either of the two main parties could have easily gotten elected with a majority even while being far from representing a majority of voters. And in that case the system would have gone happily on without any coalition. And even though there has been a promise of a referendum on electoral reform, with the two main parties being against such reform because over the long run they benefit from the system as it is now, there is little chance that such reform will pass in a referendum. It is a Catch-22 for political reformers; the only way that electoral reform will pass is if the majority of parties are willing to advocate for it, but the parties will not advocate for it while they continue to benefit from the old system.

The fact is that people like power and they like when their party is able to exercise complete power even if they didn't get support from the majority of voters. Nothing will change until the system becomes so dysfunctional that it loses legitimacy with the majority or people decide that they don't want power but instead they want justice and fairness. Until then I think we can honestly say that our system is broken, demonstrably undemocratic, and obviously unrepresentative. And we can say that our politicians are clearly immature and uninterested in actual democracy. 

1 comment:

doconnor said...

The maturity wasn't that high in the UK. The idea of the Libour-Lib Dem government was called the "Coalition of Losers".

Proportional Representation is probably more acceptable in the UK because they already have it in Scotland, Wales and all the European countries the surround them.