Monday, April 25, 2011

Who would really be handing Harper a Majority????

I must say that I am baffled by the arguments that many Liberals are putting forward in which they condemn Layton and the NDP as somehow 'handing Harper a majority.' For one thing it seems a distinctly anti-democratic argument, very simpilar to the one put forward by the very same Liberals against the Conservatives for telling the country that the "election is unnecessary." But at a more basic, rational level the argument seems odd because the NDP and the Liberals are, by many accounts equal in the polls. And if the Liberals and the NDP are even in the polls then the argument can in fact run either way. NDP supporters could just as equally complain that Ignatieff should stop campaigning so hard and let the NDP win, or else he could be "handing Harper a majority." In other words, not only is the argument being put forward by many Liberals distinctly anti-democratic, it is very clearly logically flawed.

The real fact is, and the one that Liberals should be upset by is this - if Harper were to win a majority while the Liberals and NDP (and other parities) have significantly more popular support, it is a flawed political system that hands Harper the majority, not any particular party that is only rightly taking part in the democratic system. It is the system that is flawed and unjust, not any specific political party. But unfortunately, few Liberals are willing to make this argument because they have, historically, benefited from the injustices of our first-past-the-post system. The Liberal Party of Canada has often held absolute power without actually enjoying a majority of popular support, and they don't want to change it because they are hoping to enjoy that power again at some point.

I call on Liberals to finally put the blame where the blame belongs - squarely at the feet of an antiquated political system rather than with people who are trying to exercise their basic political rights.

3 comments:

900ft Jesus said...

exactly

Don said...

Polls show general trends and are therefore useful to a degree, but I think lots of us are going to be surprised to discover on election night that we're actually a pretty sophisticated electorate, and voters in close ridings won't waste a lot of ballots splitting the vote. Jut look to Edmonton-Strathcona for the last few elections:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonton%E2%80%94Strathcona
The CPC vote has been almost the same throughout the last few elections - 40%, enough to hold against a split opposition vote. However, as soon as Linda Duncan became a clear second-place finisher in 2006, half the former Liberal voters were happy enough to vote NDP in 2008. I think we'll see that same trend in lots of ridings, certainly those with a Liberal or NDP incumbent.

As for the system, well, most of the advocates of Proportional Representation seem to think the only thing that matters about MPs are the flags they fly. I personally think the Single Member Constituency within a Westminster-style Parliament has advantages. In a PR system, Members think they only need to represent their supporters (after all, the other party's supporters can go talk to the other guy), and Members represent such a wide geographic area it becomes impossible to have any meaningful contact with constituents.

I'd be open to a preferential ballot within SMCs, though. It would eliminate all of this talk about candidates coming up the middle of a bad split.

kirbycairo said...

Thanks for the Comment Don but I have to disagree with you on the issue of PR vs SMC. It just seems to me that SMC members don't really represent their constituents anyway, people consistently vote for party rather than individual candidates, and the system leaves huge portions of the population completely unrepresented.

If people are still stuck on some form of SMC, you can have a mixed system like Australia. But frankly I believe people are just stuck on tradition and a misapprehension of what is actually going on now.