Why Not Proportional Voting?

There was a referendum in Ontario on this question a couple of elections ago. The proposed version of proportional voting was turned down. Now we are asking why we don’t demand this as a better implementation of democracy.

First, the version voted on was chosen by “one hundred ordinary people”. This is absurd. I have two degrees in pure mathematics, and I can’t tell you the best way to implement proportional voting. I do know I saw a paper that proved, for any such system, there can be constructed a pathological case which makes that system give the wrong result. It is not a simple concept; there is not a single solution, there is no perfect solution.

One hundred ordinary people are going to be, for the most part, flummoxed by all the complicated options. It will then be easy for the facilitator to take the group wherever he or she desires.

The proposal made and voted on, as I recall, included a number of extra seats for parties which received more votes (percent) than they elected representatives (percent). This allowed for a hue and cry, as individuals who never campaigned could thus get seats, individuals who had never articulated a position could thus get seats, party leaders who were too unpopular to get elected (remember Kim Campbell?) could thus get seats.

As a cynical individual, I suspect that the precise version of proportional voting put on the referendum was chosen so that, if it did pass, it would be of benefit, or least damage, to the existing parties. I suspect it was also chosen so that it would not likely pass. The existing party in power derives that power from the fact that we do not have proportional voting.

So today’s dumb question is, how would we get a decent voting system installed? How would it be chosen? How would it be marketed? How would the existing power structure be made willing to allow this to happen to it?

That does qualify as a dumb question, eh?

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