Monday, January 7, 2008

Canadians like minority government, survey finds

An interesting survey came out over the weekend. Canadian voters seem comfortable with the idea of a minority federal government and reluctant to give any party a commanding majority, a poll suggests.

The Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey asked respondents to choose the kind of split they'd ideally like to see in a hypothetical Parliament of 100 seats. The results, on average, gave 36 seats to the Liberals, 31 to the Conservatives, 15 to the NDP, 10 to the Bloc Québécois and eight to the Green party.

Projecting those percentages to the actual House of Commons of 308 seats, the Liberals would end up with 111 seats rather than their current 96 and the Tories would have 95 instead of their present 125.

The NDP would have 46 seats instead of 30, the Bloc 31 instead of 49 and the Greens 25 rather than zero.

Of course, under Canada's "Winner-Take-All" system, one political party with as little as 38% of the vote can form a majority government. This survey suggests Canadians are indeed comfortable with minority governments and are hesitant to grant one party all the power. It's regrettable that our voting system undermines that sentiment and frequently hands one party and its backroom hacks all the power in our governments.

Of particular note is the desire among Canadians to see significant representation for the Green Party. But as we know, our "Winner-Take-All" system ensures that the Greens will likely never win representation in Canadian legislatures.

Without a fair voting system that ensures party representation matches voter support, Canadians will never get the Parliament they seem to truly want.

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