May 05

Here’s How A Proportional Legislature Could Look

Numerous Advantages to Proportional Representation

The proportional seat allocation is shown in the rightmost section of the table.  The left and centre sections show the vote percentage and seat allocation from the 2013 election.  The method for the proportional seat calculation is detailed below.

More Balanced Regional Representation

Most obviously, the two main parties have much better distribution of seats throughout every region.  This would greatly reduce the sense that the NDP are the more urban party and the Liberals more strongly represent rural voters.

No Splits – No Sweeps

There are no regions where one party sweeps all the seats.  This is as it should be since there are no regions where all the voters vote for one party.  Those regions that are swept are badly represented in the legislature.  Their representatives are either all in the government or else they’re all in the opposition.  That’s not effective representation.

Take a look at the Fraser Valley.  With 9 seats, the proportional allocation gives seats to all four parties.  Ironically, it’s that four way split that ends up causing all the seats to go to the Liberals with the current system.

Greens and Conservatives Shut Out

The Greens and Conservatives are almost entirely shut out of the legislature, in spite of the fact that they received around 13% of the vote, which proportionally results in around 11 seats.  Those seats mostly went to the Liberals instead.

False Majority

We have a majority government that is based on a minority of the provincial popular vote.  So 44% of the voters in the province elect a majority government.  The red 13.5% indicates the percentage of seats that were awarded to the Liberals over and above their percentage of the vote.  What possible justification can their be for us to continue using a voting system that arbitrarily provides this many bonus seats to the winner?

A majority government is a fine thing if it’s supported by a majority.  It’s also true that a majority doesn’t mean the government can do whatever it wants since there will be another election in a few years.  Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that a false majority government will bring in better legislation than a minority or coalition government that actually represents the will of the electorate.

How the Numbers are Calculated

The columns on the left show the percentage of the vote for each party in each region in the 2013 BC election. For instance, the Surrey region, which contains 8 seats, voted 48% for the Liberals and so on.

The middle columns show how the seats were allocated using our current first past the post voting system.  Continuing with the Surrey example, the results were 5 Liberals and 3 NDP seats.

The right hand columns show how the same 8 regional seats would have been distributed if it was done proportionally.  The proportional calculation is done using the percentage for each party times the number of seats, and then assigning seats based on the largest fractions.  For instance, in Surrey, 48% of the vote for the Liberals times 8 seats is 3.84 seats.  The NDP with 41% of the vote would get 3.28 seats, and the Conservatives with 6% of the vote would get 0.48 seats.  The allocation proceeds with 3 seats each for the Liberals and NDP, which leaves 2 seats.  Those two go to the party with the highest fraction left over, which is one to the Liberal and one to the Conservative.

This calculation is not a model for any particular proportional voting system but is just a way to show how the seats may have been allocated if it was done more proportionally than with first past the post.

 

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