Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An alternative to proportional representation: IRV?

Liberal blogger and Guelph Mercury Community Editorial Board member David Graham writes in the Guelph Mercury today in favour of Instant Run-off Voting (or IRV).

This site officially endorses moving toward some form of proportional representation in Canada. While Canadian voters have rejected mixed member systems in Ontario and Prince Edward Island in recent referenda, voters in British Columbia endorsed a system called Single Transferable Vote (or STV) with 58% support in a 2005 vote. That support wasn't sufficient to change systems in B.C. because the government set approval for the change at 60%. But the government of Gordon Campbell has set a repeat vote on STV in B.C. for May 2009.

Few jurisdictions in the world exclusively use an Instant Run-Off voting system as Graham proposes. Australia does use IRV to elect members to its lower house, while using a form of proportional representation to elect its upper house (thus balancing off the tendency of IRV, like First Past the Post, to shut out representation for voters who back smaller parties.)

As Canadians don't seem to want to change to a mixed member system, this site continues to endorse Single Transferable Vote as the best alternative to our existing Winner-Take-All, or First Past The Post system in Canada. If voters in British Columbia give STV enough support next May, it will be a huge win for proportional representation in Canada and might promote the cause across the country.

If STV fails in B.C. this May, it might be a fatal blow to the PR dream in Canada. If that happens, alternatives like IRV as proposed by Graham might be the only type of electoral change possible in this country.