Some commentators on the forthcoming referendum on the future voting system for British Columbia have suggested that PR would result in government instability. In our experience in the UK, it is FPTP that has caused political instability. FPTP manufactures artificial majorities for parties that have only minority support among the voters.
Worse, FPTP then causes a complete change of government when there is a comparatively small change in the voting at a subsequent election. One minority replaces another, but usually with a grossly exaggerated majority of seats.
We experienced this in the UK particularly in the succession of elections after 1945, when Labour was replaced by Conservatives who were then replaced by Labour only to be replaced by Conservatives. At each change of government there was complete change of policy: nationalise, denationalise, renationalise, denationalise again.
It was the same in every area of economic and social policy, including health and education. Gross policy instability, and consequent lack of progress, arising directly from the distortions of the defective FPTP voting system.
Some call it “strong government” when a party with only minority support among the voters can ram through its policies based on an artificial majority of seats manufactured by FPTP. But those of us who lived through the repeated policy reversals have quite a different view. There is nothing “strong” about government where the central policies of one party are reversed by its successor in government only to be reversed again, and again.
At least with PR small changes in the votes are reflected in small changes in the seats and, usually, small changes in policy. If the voters want a big change they can bring that about with PR, but then the change will properly reflect the wishes of the voters.