Did you know that more than 80 countries around the world use a system of Proportional Representation? 84% of OECD countries (the most developed countries) use proportional representation.
New Zealand originally used the same system for voting that we use in BC (First Past the Post), however, in the 1990’s they adopted proportional representation by referendum. In a follow up referendum some 20 years later New Zealanders voted to keep it. No country that has moved to proportional representation has ever decided to return to First Past the Post.
A thoughtful reflection on what proportional representation means, particularly in the modern context where we have several political parties, helps us understand why it may be popular with voters. One feature is 30% support for a political party equals 30% seats (or near). With proportional representation, 39% support for one party will no longer be able to give 100% power to that party.
With proportional representation we can vote for what we want, rather than against what we don’t want. No more strategic voting!
A government with proportional representation will be made up of one or more parties that reflect the voting preferences of more than 50% of voters. With proportional representation politicians have incentive to reach out and find common policy areas across party lines since they often have to govern together.
And one fun fact: In the 2018 United Nations Happiness Report, the top six happiest countries all use proportional representation.
Here in BC for our referendum, the Attorney General has made 3 important guarantees that apply if we choose a system of proportional representation (from the AG report on the BC government website “How we vote”):
- No region of the province would have fewer MLAs than it currently does;
- No increase from the current 87 MLA’s or modest increase of no more than 8 additional MLA’s.
- No political party will be eligible to receive seats through a system’s proportional allocation method unless the party received at least 5% of the overall vote (threshold).
Proportional Representation is a step up for our democracy. Between October 22nd and November 3rd you will receive a ballot in the mail in order to participate in the BC provincial referendum. Do your homework. Consider your sources. Vote.
Amber van Drielen Golden, BC