Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Canada It's All Part of the Game

The Canadian federal general election has come and gone and from what I can gather most Canadians are pretty well satisfied with the results: a majority government, the centre left in opposition, the blasted sovereignists almost swept completely off the electoral map, and Canada's first Green MP elected. Something for everyone.

You might object that once again the voting system generated significant distortions that left large swaths of the population under represented, in particular, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Greens. But hey, that's the way the ball bounces. One election the voting system favors you and in another you are on the wrong side of the distortions.

You might think that given the history of the vagaries of the electoral system that Canadians would be apt to put into place a fairer voting system in which everyone's vote was given equitable treatment. But that's not the case. In fact, the vast majority of Canadians are not bothered at all with the fact that the voting system is inherently unfair.

Indeed, the vast majority of Canadians accept that an election is not a democratic exercise but a game played between rival clans. To them, it's the winner-take-all aspect of the game that makes interesting to play. Hell, it would be boring if we knew in advance that a party showing 35% of the vote would expect to receive 35% of the seats in Parliament.

Play the game, place your bets, take your chances.

The idea that an election is far too important to be framed with a gaming metaphor appropriately named first-past-the-post is beyond them. If the game entails the systemic elimination of millions of voices in Parliament, so be it. Only the sore losers complain about the rules.

Democracy? What's that?

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