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Lecture 18

Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Plurality Voting System, Proportional Representation

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Peter Fragiskatos

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PoliSci1020E January 19, 2012
Lecture 19
Electoral Systems
First Past the Post a.k.a. Single Member Plurality
Used in Canada, India, U.K., etc.
308 ridings/seats in Canada.
The politician that wins the most votes represents the riding.
107 MPP (Provincial) ridings in Ontario.
Problems with the System
Even though the representative doesn’t have the most votes, they still become the voice
of the party.
In this past election, Conservatives were elected by 40% of the population, but have 54%
of the seats.
What matters is the total number of ridings you win. The actual number of votes comes
second. The Green Party won 4% of the vote but with one MP, only have 0.32% of the
Majoritarian System
Runoff elections keep taking place until a party is elected by at least 50 % of the
population. E.g. France.
Preferential you rank the candidates according to how you prefer them. Each time
the lowest ranking candidate is eliminated, your vote is transferred to your next
preference. E.g. Australia.
Proportional Representation
Number of seats a party holds represents the number of votes won in an election.
Party List System each party lists their candidates according to preference. Citizens
vote for parties- not candidates. Many feel that their vote counts for more; it is a direct
vote for the party and favours small parties. E.g. If the party gets 19% of the vote, they
will select 19% of the members/candidates on their list.
Countries with this system require parties to meet a minimum percentage/threshold
before they can be represented. This prevents extremists.
Proportional representation almost always leads to minority governments.
Has the potential to lead to coalition governments: Cabinet positions are split through a
formal agreement. If a party doesn’t like the terms, they can leave. As a result, it
E.g. Argentina, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Greece, Chile, and many more.
Has Canada Ever Tried Anything Like This?
Parties in power are often against this.
In 2007 Ontario had the option of the Mixed-Member Proportional System through a
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