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POLI 101- November 21.docx

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Political Science
POLI 101
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ELECTIONS/POLITICAL PARTIES Tuesday November 8, 2011 Review: Electoral Change in Canada - Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing (Lortie Commission) 1995 - Didn’t consider changing SMP system (weren’t allowed to comment on this possibility) - Changes based on Court Challenges - Limit restriction on who has right to vote - EG. Inmates - Changes to rule around districting, practices of independent commissions (how far off the average number of voters per representative each district can be) - Provincial Electoral Reform - BC, Ontario, Quebec, PEI, NB all inquired into changing electoral systems - Proposed different system (EG. Transferable vote) - Referendum failed in 2009 in BC Litigating Democratic Rights - More people are able to vote now, than ever before - This large amount of eligible voters is due to constitutional challenges regarding voting restrictions - Prisoners, etc. are now included in the very broad franchise - Only significant restraint is age (18 years) - Electoral district challenges - Financing rule challenges - There have been court challenges regarding the constitutionality of limitation on election spending on behalf of the parties - Limitations were ruled unconstitutional at the provincial level, but the Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional on a federal level - SMP system challenge by the Green Party - Green Party argued that with the SMP system votes are too often ‘wasted’ and therefore individual right to vote is not being respected in accordance with Section 3 of the Constitution - Green party doesn’t have regional support bases, and is therefore disadvantaged by the SMP system (which favours parties with regional support) - Generally wins 4-5% of popular support nation-wide, yet no seats in the House of Commons (because this support is spread out over all 308 constituencies) Reform Proposals - Proportional Representation models most common electoral system in democratic countries worldwide - BC-STV a form of proportional representation - Multi-member constituencies with a ranked ballot - Voters express preferences of candidates in order (don’t have to rank all candidates) - More than one representative for each party on ballot - Electoral system reform (BC-STV) failed to pass in 2005 and 2009 referendum Political Parties - Political parties ‘colour’ our electoral and political system - Political parties promote and represent common interests - They act as agents of socialization, provide individual with cultural connections - Political parties are critical to the operation of Canadian democracy - Dominate the practice of Canadian democracy - Not required by the constitution, but they serve a vital role - Helps GG choose government (determine who has confidence of the house) - Political parties structure electoral competition - Parties find candidates, and raise and debate political issues - Parties take on energy required by system on their own Origins of Parties - Political parties are not constitutionally required - Nothing in conventions of responsible governments that says ‘the party with the most seats will form the government’ or even that it will command the confidence of the House - Does require however that independent MPs have an association of some kind from which the GG can determine confidence - Parties make it easier! - 308 independent MP is possible, however the government and HOC would be less effectively organized and thus less efficient - No requirement that MPs be a part of a party - Party labels are helpful given the political party driven nature of the political system - In order to use a party name beside their surname, a candidate must have the permission of the party - This requirement of permission gives some power to the party, as they can control who can and cannot be candidates on a local and federal level Utility of Parties - There is nothing is the political or electoral system that depends on parties, but they certainly have utility/purpose - Parties help to organize parliamentary politics and choose government - Historical ineffectiveness of independent MPs - UK parliament an example of this: Originally consisted of a group of relatively independent MPs, but quickly realized the benefits of organizing along party lines - There is a need within Parliament to ‘collect majorities’ in order to clearly establish
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