Why I No Longer Support Proportional Representation

Anyone who has done me the honour of reading my previous articles in support of proportional representation (hereafter referred to as PR) may be shocked to learn I no longer support that form of electoral system.

Having spent the past summer exploring this and other important contemporary political issues, I’ve come up with three objections that I believe are arguments in favour of the first past the post electoral system as opposed to any of the various forms of PR.

  • Your vote doesn’t matter in a proportional representation. This is particularly true in the PR system known as Preferential Ballot, wherein your vote is thrown around from one candidate to another to the percentage of votes he or she has over an indicated threshold. This can happen a number of times, thus nulling your cast vote by giving your vote to a candidate you despise.
  • Under PR, the running candidate has to, in a particular riding, gain over fifty percent of the vote; as such, the candidate will attempt to appeal to the greatest amount of voters. In the rather fractured Canadian political landscape, where during the last federal election in 2015 no party was able to gain anywhere close to fifty percent of the popular vote, it is rather foolish to expect that the majority of the candidates running under the PR system will be able to get fifty percent of the vote in their riding.
  • In considering the objection above, there is the issue that the candidate will have to appeal to the baser instincts of the populace. Although populism is nothing bad (to be against the will of the people would be to be against democracy, and to be an autocrat), if it is channeled into the wrong directions one usually ends up with the case of either fascist and/ or a communist/ socialist governments being formed during times of relative distress. Both of those forms of political systems are wrought in fanciful lunacy and are, as history shows, problematic to say the least.

Candidates attempting to get elected under the first past the post electoral system don’t have to appeal to the baser instincts of their electors; rather, the candidate who wins the greatest percentage of the vote wins the seat. Likewise, your vote in a first past the post electoral system matters more than in a PR system, as it is not shuffled around. Hence, I have shifted my political opinion to this format rather than the latter.