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POLS 2300 (129)
Chapter 11

Week 11 Readings - Chapter 11.docx

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Political Science
POLS 2300
Tamara Small

POLS 2300: Canadian Government and Politics Week 11 – Elections and the Electoral Systems – Chapter 11 The Importance of Elections - Voters can play a role in shaping the future direction of the country by choosing the party whose ideological perspective, policy proposals or election promises they view as most desirable - Votes can hold the governing party accountable for its actions - Establish the legitimacy of government - Electoral System: System by which the votes that people cast are translated into the representation of political parties in the H of C Election Rules and Procedures - Election can be considered fair and fully democratic if a number of conditions were met: o Voting  The Rights to vote is guaranteed constitutionally through the Charter which provides that every citizen has the right to vote  To vote an individual must present ID  Employers must give people time to go vote o Running for Office  Any citizen who is at least 18 can be a candidate for elected office even if the citizen doesn’t live in the electoral district  To have party affiliation alongside the candidates name on the ballot the leader of the political party must confirm that the candidate has been accepted as the party’s nominee for that electoral district o Representation in the H of C  Canada uses a single member plurality electoral system electing one representative form each electoral district, also known as a constituency or riding  The candidate who attracts the most votes is elected  The H of C is based on the principle of representation by population such that each electoral district will have a similar number of people  The constitution requires that readjustments of electoral districts occur after the comprehensive census that is conducted every 10 years to take account of population changes  Representation Act guarantees that a province will have no fewer seats than it had in 1976  Gerrymandering: the drawing of boundaries for partisan advantage particularly for the advantage of the governing party  Each commission is expected to draw the boundaries of electoral districts so as to take into account existing communities and territorially based “communities of interest” o The Timing of Elections  Canadian constitution requires that the H of C cannot continue for more than 5 years without holding a general election  Exception is allowed with war  PM can also ask GG to hold election at any time PM wants The Single Member Plurality Electoral System - An electoral system in which voters in each district elect a single representative. The candidate with the most votes is elected regardless of whether that candidate received a majority of votes - Majority Government: a governing party that has a majority of seats in the House regardless of whether it received a majority of votes in an elections - Supporters of SMP argue that its potential to create majority governments that can govern for a full term of office provides more stability than systems that more accurately reflect preferences of voters - SMP discriminates against smaller parties, particularly those who support is spread relatively evenly across the country - SMP electoral system also tends to exaggerate the regional character of political parties and can be viewed as an important factor in the development of the regionalization of parties - SMP system can benefit regional parties while discriminating against parties that have Canada wide perspective - SMP system generally discriminates against political parties with lower levels of supports across the country it typically results in fewer parties being represented in legislative bodies, does tend to create a limited version of a multiparty system Electoral System Reform - Proportional Representation System: An electoral system in which the proportion of seats a party receives in the legislative body reflects the proportion of votes the party obtained - Mixed Member Proportional System: An electoral system in which voters cast one vote for the party they prefer and one vote for candidate they prefer. Some legislators represent the district in which they received the most votes, while other legislators are selected based on the proportion of votes received by their party - Gives meaning to voting - Countries with PR systems almost always feature governments based on a coalition of parties Election Campaigns - The formal election campaign at the national level lasts at least 36 days - A substantial permanent campaign can be run by parties with large financial resources - Campaigns have become highly centralized with the national party campaign office trying to tightly control the message that the campaign seeks to deliver Campaign Debates - Debates among the leaders of parties represented in the H of C have been central to every election - The debate format has varied from election to election with some debates including one on one sparring between pairs of leaders while others have been a “free for all” among the leaders Campaign Platforms - Political parties would
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