Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Huge Distortions of the Popular Vote Mire Canadian Election Results

How is it that a supposedly developed country, a member of the G-8, endures a medieval electoral system?

The Conservatives's quest for what Canadians erroneously refer to as a majority government was fulfilled, largely due to an outrageous distortion of the popular vote in Ontario. As well, the newly formed NDP opposition had its number of seats bolstered by an even more outrageous distribution of seats in Quebec.

In short, the election was decided in Canada's two most populous provinces. Effectively, the massive vote splitting in Ontario was more than enough to offset the massive vote splitting in Quebec. The principle victims of this democratic charade were the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois. What goes around comes around.

Taking a closer look at the results, one can easily see how the voting system and not the electors determined the formation of the government and the opposition.

In Ontario, the Conservatives received 44.4% of the popular vote, yet received 68.9% of the available seat, a classic example of coming up the middle when two other parties split the outstanding 50% of the vote. With regard to the allocation of extra seats as a result of the plurality method, the Conservatives received an extra 27 seats. To put this in perspective, the total number of extra seats allocated to the Conservatives nation wide in the 2008 election was only 30.

In Quebec, the distortion of the popular vote is even more spectacular. The NDP won 42.9 % of the vote, yet garnered 77.3% of the seats. In this instance, the allocation of extra seats totals 26. In other words, instead of receiving 32 seats in Quebec, which would be the number in proportion to the number of votes, the NDP was awarded 58 seats. The transfer can be attributed to the huge under representation of the Bloc Quebecois: the Bloc captured 23.4% of the vote but received only 5.2% of the seats.

Instead of having an election where the electoral results reflected the manner in which people actually voted, Canadians witnessed once again the application of a voting method that generates wild deviations from democratic norms.

I think the question that needs to be asked is how much longer are Canadians going to sit back and let their political class make mockery of the very notion of democracy. In my case, I have taken the issue to Court and am waiting on a decision from the Quebec Appeal Court with regard to the constitutionality of the first-past-the-post system.

While in deliberation, I hope the three judges take note of the antidemocratic nature of the latest federal election.


  1. I hope Canadians will embrace electoral reform now.

  2. "The principle victims of this democratic charade were the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois. What goes around comes around."

    Spot on!

  3. I believe in proportional representation like they have in Germany, Scandinavian countries.

    It doesn't say in your posting. What was Liberal situation i.e popular vote % vs actual seats secured?

  4. With first-past-the-post, the general rule is that the leading party gets a boost in seats, the second party is near a proportional result, and then on the level of distortion rises quickly as we go down the list of parties.

    As a third place finisher, the Liberal Party of Canada amassed 18.9% of the vote and captured only 11% of the seats. In Quebec, the LPC received 14.2% of the vote and was awarded 9.3% of the seats, but where they really received the downside of our voting system's distortion is in Ontario where both the NDP and the Liberals received almost the identical share of the popular vote 25.6% v. 25.3%, yet the NDP captured twice as many seats (22) as the Liberals (11).

  5. I agree that FPTP is ridiculous. I'm a fan of the Alternative Vote system that is proposed in England right now. It wouldn't have done much for the Bloc as it had marginal support throughout the province but not strong support in a community so I don't think proportional representation is what I'd go for. Personally, my biggest concerns are "vote splitting" and the notion of "wasted votes" and the AV addresses that.

    Normally I don't link dump but in case your blog readers aren't familiar with the AV, here's youtube video that explains it... with cats!


  6. Thanks for the link. Very well done for those who like cats ;-)

    In any case, I'll be following the referendum results closely. If Britain votes no to the proposal, it will confirm my belief that here in Canada change can only be brought about through a court action. Politics by other means.

  7. You are dead on in regard to the non-existence of a popular swell to Harper. I also find it interesting to look at the popular vote outside Alberta where, for generations, the electorate has overwhelmingly supported whatever is the most right wing party of the day. Take Alberta away and Harper's gang has 33% of the popular vote, a virtual dead heat with the NDP. That's how much (sensible) Canada wants this guy as PM.

  8. Achieving proportional results in elections isn't even all that difficult. So easy in fact you don't even need to abandon FPTP. A while ago I came up with an idea that leaves the current voting system unchanged but makes Parliament proportional. You simply need to give MPs of each party a number of votes equal to their party's share of the popular vote.

    Learn more:


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