The commitment to electoral reform announced by Justin Trudeau recently is the most encouraging news from Ottawa in some time. I commend the Liberals for recognizing a very serious problem at the core of our electoral system.
This antiquated first-past-the-post (FPTP) system that we still use – a brave step for fledgling democracies centuries ago – just doesn’t work with our multi-party systems. More often than not, 100 per cent of the power is granted to a party on a minority of votes, leaving a majority of the electorate without a representative voice. The resulting “false majority” becomes a haven of unaccountability in our governments, and all too often renders the expressed will of the people irrelevant.
With this simple but hugely beneficial change, however, we can expect legislatures in which each party receives the number of seats that reflects the percentage of the popular vote they received. So a party with less than 40 per cent of the vote does not control the entire agenda (as is the case with our present system). They will, however, have more influence on policy outcome than a party with only 25 per cent of the vote.
But the important point is, all parties have a say in governance, resulting in policy outcome that is a closer representation of the will of the people.
This change is coming, folks. And, with the unabated discontent of our territorial government drifting so far from the true concept of representative democracy, I believe this wonderful change will happen here in the Yukon first.
The final days of the FPTP era in the countries that have most recently made the switch to proportional representation are a mirror image to our situation here in the Yukon. New Zealand, for example, suffered two devastating false majority governments in a row. Parties representing a huge majority of the electorate were shut out of power. The formation of grassroots electoral reform groups were a direct response to governments representing a small minority of the electorate, that broke election promises, ignored public consultation and governed as “elective dictatorships.”
Sound familiar? We have, both federally and territorially, the worst examples of false majority governments in memory, with broken election promises, ignored public consultation, and agendas that do not represent the will of the majority. Elective dictatorships.
Those countries, when faced with these same problems, made the switch to proportional representation.
Now it is our turn. It is our time, to take the next natural step in the evolution of our electoral system. It is time to see our voices taken seriously by our elected representatives and reflected in the governance of our beautiful territory.
I encourage everyone to seek out electoral reform online. Listen for the next Democracy Salon and other events put on by Fair Vote Yukon. Come out to these events for inspiring conversation and offer your input.
We deserve representation that reflects our collective will and lives up to the true concept of democracy. Let’s get this change done, folks.