I was going through a report on electoral reforms in British Colombia and came across some valuable inputs which will do a world of good for the present electoral reforms in the country.
Here are some of the relevant points:
Fair Election Results through Proportionality
Democracy is “rule by the people,” therefore, the results of an election—the number of seats won by each party—should reflect the number of votes each party has earned from the voters. The results—votes to seats—should be “proportional.”
No electoral system does this perfectly, but that does not reduce the importance of proportionality. Proportional election results are the fairest election results. The preference of voters should determine who sits in our legislature. That is fair.
Effective Local Representation
Each community has a distinct personality; each makes its own unique contribution to our provincial life. To be effectively represented, each community needs the opportunity to choose the people who speak for it in the legislature, and to hold them accountable in democratic elections.
Effective local representation has long been a principle of our democratic tradition. It is central to our electoral politics. Strengthening local representation should be a test of any electoral reform.
Greater Voter Choice
As citizens, we all are responsible for the health of our democracy, and therefore we must have the fullest possible opportunity to choose the candidates that best represent our interests. Our choice in elections should include choosing among party candidates, as well as across all parties. To give voters a stronger voice, greater voter choice should be part of our voting system.
In addition to these values, two issues were consistently highlighted in our discussions on choosing an electoral system.
The Voter and Political Parties
There is a groundswell of opposition in this province to the current imbalance of power between voters and parties. Indeed, some of the submissions we received called for banning parties on the grounds that they so dominate electoral politics that local representation is undermined by party discipline and practices, and voter choice is stifled.
While concerned about this imbalance, we recognize that parliamentary government depends on parties to conduct elections, organize the work of the legislature and carry out the business of government. We believe that the solution lies in adopting an electoral system that encourages voters and politicians to work together in a balanced partnership.
The Voter and Majority, Coalition and Minority Governments
Most often—parties that form majority governments earn much less than half of the vote, but take well over half of the seats. These are called “artificial majorities.” Nonetheless, we are so familiar with single-party majority governments that we easily assume they are the natural outcome of elections.
A majority government, real or artificial, will claim a mandate and act on it. And it can easily be held accountable at the next election. However, we are convinced that the simple nature of majority governments should not override the basic values of fair election results, effective local representation, and greater voter choice. Most other successful western democracies do not depend on majorities, yet have stable and effective governments, governments that often are both inclusive of different interests and consensual in making decisions.
We believe that our electoral system should not override fairness and choice in favour of producing artificial single-party majority governments.