Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Quebec election: What Francois Legault should do

Now that the dust is settling, a PQ minority government will take over in Quebec with roughly one-third of the vote, while the Legault Coalition party will end up with far fewer seats than its roughly 27% of the votes should grant it.

However, Legault’s Coalition party now holds the balance of power, and sooner or later both the PQ and the Liberal Party will come cap in hand, asking for its support.

What should Legault do?

He can introduce a more democratic system of electing representatives through a modified proportional representation system to replace the undemocratic first past the post system.

In Canada, we select our representatives in the same way we have done since before Confederation: with first-past-the-post riding elections.

This means that our legislatures are not as representative of the will of the people as they could be if we used some element of proportional representation, as most modern democracies do.

New Zealand, with a parliamentary system like ours, uses a mixed member proportional system, which means about half the MPs are elected in direct riding elections, and the rest are appointed from party lists so that the composition of the legislature mirrors the election results. That means that almost every voter has a representative in the House of Commons.

In our system, many voters are essentially disenfranchised. If you’re a Liberal in Calgary or a Conservative in Montreal, or a Green just about anywhere, you might as well stay home on election day for all the good your vote does.

The system leads to ridiculous outcomes.

Legault can demand the introduction of a better system of electing representatives as a price for his party cooperating with either the PQ or the Liberals.

And if he sticks to his guns, he stands a good chance of achieving this.

All Quebec voters would benefit from a more democratic system.


  1. Quebec voters would benefit directly, but it would benefit all of Canada (regardless of which party he supports) so long as the single transferable vote model is used and not some messed up, complicated idea like has been proposed and rejected in Ontario and BC.

  2. Eric, I prefer the modified proportional representation system in use in several countries, but agree that starting with a simpler, easier to understand STV (Single Transferable Vote) system would be in itself a great improvement over our FPTP system.

  3. I see the benefits of MPR because it balances the representation over a greater sample of voters. It justs seems too complicated to explain to a passive voter, and the concept of party-appointed reps appears to be too prone to manipulation and insider politics.

    Agree that either system is an improvement over FTPT.

  4. Eric, many European states have managed to explain the details of MPR voting systems to their citizens, and have implemented them very successfully, mostly without any of the complications many feared might happen.

    There's no reason to believe Canadians won't be able to decide on the merits of a proposed MPR system if it was properly explained, and not trashed before by the politicial elities.


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