Proportional representation leads to more political uncertainty: Fraser Institute study

Voting Ballot.
Voting Ballot. David Gould / Getty Images

A new survey from the Fraser Institute suggests that a change in the voting system in B.C. could actually be a negative thing for the province.

READ MORE: Official ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ side chosen B.C. vote on changing how politicians are elected

The institute looked at election data from 30 countries between the years 2000 and 2017, highlighting ways the B.C. legislature could change if it adopts a form of proportional representation.

Senior fellow Lydia Miljan says there is a greater likelihood of a majority government in first-past-the-post elections, and that 23 per cent of the time the election resulted in coalitions.

“In mixed systems, 95 per cent of the time, they are coalition governments, and in PR systems 87 per cent of the time they form coalition governments.”

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British Columbians begin voting in October on whether to keep the first-past-the-post system or changing to proportional representation.

But Miljan says even if people decide to change, it’s uncertain how it will pan out in the province.

“If the public votes in favor of PR and they choose one of these systems, we don’t know what that system is going to look like in practice.”

The report also shows that it took longer for coalition governments to form, leaving many countries without a government for hundreds of days. Northern Ireland recently set a record for not having a government in place for 590 days.

In a statement to Global News, Maria Dobrinskaya of Vote PR BC says, “There’s nothing new in the Fraser Institute report – it’s just a repackaging of the same old, tired arguments made by those who support the status quo. But this kind of fear-mongering just doesn’t hold any water with the public.

She goes on to say, “Over 80 per cent of OECD countries use some kind of proportional representation in their voting systems, and those same countries have some of the strongest economies – and democratic traditions – in the world. Right now in BC, a minority of voters can elect MLAs and governments who have all of the power. This recently happened with Ontario, where Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives received only 40% of the vote, but 100% of the power. That’s not fair. With proportional representation, a minority of voters will never get to elect a government that has all the power every again. Every vote will count.”