Published at 17:17 on 31 March 2022
Much whining is made from Conservatives about how unfair the world is, because the Liberals got less votes than them, but still got to form a government. And now the NDP has agreed to enter into a confidence and supply agreement, maintaining the status quo for another three years. Doubly unfair!
Not quite. First off, let us review the results (via Wikipedia) of the most recent Federal election (only last year):
|Party||% Vote||Seats||% Seats||Coefficient|
(More about that mysterious “coefficient” column later; it’s important! But I digress.)
Anyhow, pay attention to the two parties that just entered into that supposedly “unfair” agreement: collectively, they got 50.44% of the vote. Barely a majority, but a majority nonetheless. Suddenly, this agreement is looking a lot less unfair. But wait, there’s more: the Greens are also a left-of-centre party, and the Bloc advocates a social-democratic flavor of Quebec nationalism. Add those votes and we are now up to 60.41% voting for centre-left politics of some sort.
But you would never realize that, given how much the Conservatives whine about how life is so unfair, because they got more votes than the Liberals did, yet don’t get to form a government. Now, they do have a little bit of a point; the Liberals are arguably over-represented. This is where my coefficient comes in; it is the ratio of the percentage of seats in the House of Commons to the percentage of the overall popular vote. A number greater than 1 indicates a party is over-represented, and a figure less than one indicates it is under-represented.
No party has a coefficient as high as the Liberals’ 1.42, so they are over-represented, no doubt about it. But the Conservatives are at 1.06, just about parity. If you want to see who’s getting the shaft, look at the NDP. A fair system would mean 60 NDP MP’s; instead, there are only 25. No other party falls so short in absolute numbers of seats, though the Greens and particularly the People’s Party fare worse percentage-wise.
There are definitely criticisms to be made about first-past-the-post, but to insinuate that it is undemocratically giving Canada a centre-left government is not one of them. A completely fair allocation of Commons seats, in line with popular vote percentages, would achieve the same basic outcome.