Nathan Poklar ’24
This October, Quebeckers went to the polls, and the result was clear: the way we vote is broken. Using the first past the post system (electing a person with the most votes regardless of whether they win a majority) has yet again produced results that do not reflect how the electorate voted.
Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec won 72% of seats in the National Assembly and essentially 100% of the power. Yet, he only received 42% of the popular vote—nowhere near reflecting the historic majority he won.
Four other parties, the Liberals, Québec Solidaire, the Parti Québécois, and the Conservatives each received between 13 and 15% of the popular vote. Despite this, their seat counts differed wildly. The Liberals won 21 seats, Québec Solidaire won 11, and the Parti Québécois won only 3. And in the most serious indictment of how we vote, the Conservatives did not win a single seat, despite having nearly identical vote counts as the other three parties.
Québec’s outrageous results are not rare. In Canada, it is the norm that political parties receive seat totals that are wildly disproportionate to the popular vote. In last year’s federal election, seat counts were all over the place. Almost no party managed to have a number of seats proportionate to their share of the popular vote, and Trudeau’s Liberals managed to win—by far—the most seats whilst losing the popular vote.
It is embarrassing that our electoral system does not represent how Canadians vote. This disconnect is dangerous, leaving Canadians feeling ignored and apathetic to our democratic process. Apathetic voters lead to disengagement, one of the greatest dangers to maintaining a healthy democracy.
There is only one logical solution to fix this issue: it is the time for actual electoral reform. No more empty campaign promises or half-hearted attempts at change. Politicians and citizens need to get serious about electoral reform for the health of our democracy.
Systems that produce proportional results exist. Single transferable vote, party-list, and mixed member systems would each work better to represent the voices of all Canadians. We need a serious conversation to find which system would suit us better as a nation, because first past the post is not the answer for Canadians.
For years, Canadians have been consistently unrepresented by their democratic systems. The results of the Québec election are yet another wakeup call that something must be done. We must start a new national conversation about electoral reform, lest we see first past the post strike again.
Photo credit: Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press