Sometimes there’s nothing better than a practical example to illustrate outcomes and consequences.
If we use the recent elections in Quebec as a measurement of the differences between First Past The Post (FPTP) and Proportional Representation (PR) we can gauge those differences, without interjecting any political biases, just letting the numbers speak for themselves. It might help us all understand further.
On Oct. 1, the CAQ took 74 seats on 1,508,805 votes. The Liberals got 32 seats on 1,000,909 votes. The QS now have 10 seats on 648,975 votes and lastly the PQ scored nine seats on 687,872 votes. A hundred and twenty five seats in all, with the CAQ winning a majority on 39 per cent of the votes.
That’s the way FPTP has always worked.
So how would it have been different under a PR system, using the same 3,846,872 votes?
Well, the CAQ got 39 per cent of the vote, so they would have been awarded 49 seats (down from 74). The Liberals on 26 per cent of the vote would have garnered one more seat at 33. The QS would have more than doubled to 21 seats with 17 per cent of the vote, up from 10. And finally the PQ would get 22 seats, up from nine, with nearly 18 per cent of the vote!
FPTP indicated a clear majority, as 74 seats could not be matched by 32 + 10 +9 working in opposition.
On the other hand, the CAQ’s 49 seats under a PR system would be challenging as 33 + 22 + 21 could unsettle the incumbents, if the parties so chose as they would be representing 2,337,757 voters, albeit some in the centre, left or separatist.
That would never happen, you say, too diverse to work in unison! Well, who knows? Maybe British Columbia will find out. Maybe it won’t.