The single member plurality system (SMP), which Canada employs to fabricate a democratic election, can cause representatives to be elected without the majority of the popular vote. In contrast, the system of proportional representation eliminates an inequity in parliament composition by ensuring representation from every party that received votes. Although this system would inevitably result in minority governments, it would appropriately cater to the views of the constituents.
To produce a more effective government, Canadas single member plurality electoral system should be replaced by a system of proportional representation (PR). Another attempt to negate the effectiveness of the PR system is by charging that it would lead to the decline of responsible government. The reasoning behind this lies with the theory that PR disenfranchises a parties capability to formulate policies, administer programs, make laws, submit budgets(Barker, 287). Opponents contend that under PR, the government would be unable to garner enough confidence from the legislative branch.
However, by looking at the opposite side of the spectrum, one would agree that this disadvantage is minimal compared to the policy making created through single member plurality. SMP encourages parties to form lowest common denominator policies in order to achieve a plurality of votes. Consequently, parties will create platforms that advocate policies that are indistinguishable to those of other party platforms. By providing ambiguous party principles, a constituents local MP can avoid being held accountable.
In essence, the plurality system encourages MPs and political parties to reflect some limited concerns of their geographic districts while ignoring the deeply held principles of the voters(Heimstra and Jansen, 300). The only thing differentiating Canadian parties is their promise of social benefits beyond what the economy could tolerate(Irvine, 45). Since parties under PR do not have to compete for the median voter, governing parties have less incentive to manipulate policy for short run ends(Irvine, 50).
As mentioned earlier, minority governments are likely to be assembled over a majority government under a PR system. This will entice legislature to form a coalition, thereby facilitating the demands of all the different regions comprising Canada. Eventually, long term policy making will be executed with less hesitation, as governments will soon realize that regardless the outcome of the following election, support for their proposed policy will still exist. The inability of the House of Commons to finalize long-term policy-making has stunted economic growth in Canada because of ineffective governments elected through SMP.
The greatest disadvantage of single member plurality is its inhibiting effect on voter turnout. Voter turnout has been decreasing steadily as more people have come to the realization that their votes will not necessarily be accounted for. In Jeffrey Simpsons book, The Friendly Dictatorship, the author reveals that only 61 per cent of eligible Canadians bothered to vote in 2000, the lowest turnout by far since the Second World War(Simpson, 144). It is important to note that Canada counts voter turnout by the number of people who vote in relation to the number of people on the electoral list.
Since not everyone eligible to vote gets on the electoral list, the numbers are actually far lower than they appear. With a large number of eligible voters staying home, elected MPs do not have a real mandate to represent their constituents. This discrepancy has the potential to produce an ineffective government and a discontent amid the members of society. It has become increasingly important to determine the cause of this decreased interest in voting. electoral system is often described as a first past the post system.
The way in which this system functions is that each voter is allowed one vote and the candidate with the most votes (or a plurality) becomes elected. Proportional representation, on the other hand, can be accomplished through a multitude of electoral methods. But for the sake of convenience, we will focus primarily on the two most notable systems: party list system, and mixed member proportional. The party list system used to achieve PR relies on the voter to choose the party they wish to support as opposed to the actual candidate.