If the Vancouver Civic Election had been held under a proportional electoral system, the results would have looked quite different. On a party level, the actual results looked like this:
NPA got a slightly higher overall vote than Vision at 33% vs. 32%.
The Greens and COPE received 13% and 12% respectively.
Other minor parties and independents received a total of 10%.
We can only speculate what the results would be if we had proportional representation (more on this below), but if we took the party percentages above as a guide, then we would assign one seat for COPE, one for the Greens, and three seats each for NPA and Vision respectively.
That adds up to eight seats and leaves two council seats unaccounted for. Without further information about voter preferences, we can only guess who should win those two seats.
Under either Single Transferrable Vote (STV) or Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) systems there are mechanisms that would be much more likely to take those votes into account. For instance, with STV, if a number of voters chose a candidate who only received 2% of the vote, that candidate would eventually be dropped off the list and those voters would have their votes applied to their second or third choice instead.
The key problem in this analysis is that the voting system itself has an effect on voting, particularly with regard to strategic voting. Under the current system, voters have to be careful not to “split the vote”, so they may end up voting for a candidate or party that is second best in order to prevent a less wanted candidate or party from winning. With proportional representation, this is usually not an issue and voters can vote more freely, not needing to worry about strategic voting or vote splitting. Then again, under a PR system, the parties would run a different campaign as well, which might further affect the outcome. One way or another, the outcome of the election under PR would not be the same as an election run under our current the at-large system.