LETTER – Proportional representation provides kinder, gentler democracy

I am one of the majority of voters in the last federal election (2015) that wasted their vote. The number of people who voted NDP (21,466) and Liberal (21,215) in Kamloops-Thompson-Caribou vastly outnumbered the votes received by the Conservatives (24,595) – this is called the ‘spoiler effect’ of First Past the Post systems – so the views of 42,681 citizens are not represented as compared to 24,595 who’s views are represented in Ottawa.

Proportional Representation simply means that you are represented – your party may not form government, but your views are represented and your vote was not wasted.

I am passionate about the need for Proportional Representation because of the toxicity I see in the USA – the two parties (Democrats and Republicans) are so polarized and both are in the pockets of corporate power and special interest groups. People are so put off by having no representation that many don’t vote. I fear the negative outcomes of First Past the Post – Proportional Representation means more women in politics, better economic growth, better decisions for sustainable development, and for a more collaboration and a fairer democracy.

I hope you will consider the research of Arend Lijphart, a world-renowned political scientist, spent his career studying various features of democratic life in majoritarian and PR democracies (he calls the latter “consensual democracies). In his landmark study, he compared 36 democracies looking at a 55 year time frame.

He is currently Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.

In Patterns of Democracy (1999, 2nd ed., 2012), Lijphart classifies thirty-six democracies using these attributes. He finds consensus democracies to be “kinder, gentler” states, having lower incarceration rates, less use of the death penalty, better care for the environment, more foreign aid work, and more welfare spending – qualities he feels “should appeal to all democrats”. He also finds that consensus democracies have a less abrasive political culture, more functional business-like proceedings, and a results-oriented ethic. The 2012 edition included data up to 2010 and found proportional representation (PR) was vastly superior for the “quality of democracy”, being statistically significantly better for 19 of 19 indicators. On the issue of “effective government” 16 out of 17 indicators pointed to PR as superior, with 9 out of 17 statistically significant. These results held up when controlling for the level of development and population size.

Please support us in moving towards Proportional Representation in B.C. and Canada.


About Mel Rothenburger (6311 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on LETTER – Proportional representation provides kinder, gentler democracy

  1. One has to be optimistic and patient. We have no mine, We will have proportional representation,

  2. Excellent & well-researched letter. “Less abrasive political culture, more functional business-like proceedings, and a results-oriented ethic” — sure sounds like an improvement over the current political antics in the Legislature.

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