Monday, March 28, 2011

The Bloc Quebecois Has the Last Laugh Since Canada Has Become Ungovernable

One thing is for sure. Once the writ is dropped, partisan interests prevail and the leaders can't see the forest for the trees.

For example, all this fear mongering about the participation of the Bloc in a ruling coalition misses the point. Indeed, what has happened is that the Bloc has appropriated a disproportionately large share of our electoral system's best known distortion, the winner's bonus, which, as a result, renders the system wholly dysfunctional since it cannot produce the desired result: a false majority, where a plurality of the votes is transformed into a majority of seats.

Generally speaking, 40% of the vote garners 60% of the seats for the party that gains the most votes when using the first-past-the-post voting method. The so called winner's bonus results from the inability of smaller parties whose distribution of seats is spread too thin geographically to effectively turn those votes into seats. In other words, the distribution of votes is as important as the number of votes cast. For example, in the 2008 federal election the Green Party of Canada received approximately 1.0 million votes and did not elect a single MP whereas the Bloc received 1.3 million votes and elected 49 MPs.

In fact, looking at the numbers from the 2008 election tells us that the Bloc received a winner's bonus that is three times as large as what the Conservatives received.

For instance, the Bloc received 38.1% of the popular vote and yet obtained 65% of the seats in Quebec, the only province where it fields candidates. This represents a winner's bonus of twenty extra seats, which is a 69% increase in the number of seats as compared to the number of seats obtained if the seats were distributed on the basis of the popular vote.

Likewise, the Conservatives also enjoyed a winner's bonus. They received an extra 27 seats or an increase of 23% of the number of seats as compared to a distribution of seats based on the popular vote. However, it should be pointed out that the Conservatives fielded candidates in 308 ridings as compared to only 75 candidates for the Bloc.

In other words, the Bloc was much more effective in capturing the benefit from the distortions derived from the voting system than the Conservatives. So much so that it thwarts the capacity of either the Conservatives or Liberals to form a majority government, thereby rendering the country ungovernable over the long term.

Given the disproportional number of seats awarded to the Bloc and the ideological differences between the parties that excludes the Bloc from participating in a stable coalition, Canada appears to be stuck in a pattern of successive, short-lived minority governments.

Ironically, the Bloc uses a core feature of the British Parliamentary system to bring about electoral results that run contrary to the design of the system and much to the rest of Canada's chagrin.

Of course, this anomaly could be dispensed with by changing the voting system so that it produces more proportional results, but for that to occur either the Liberals or Conservatives would have to renounce the blatant unfairness of the electoral system that they have used to gain advantage for quite some time.

Methinks that neither party is prepared to bite the hand that feeds them.

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