First past the post not democratic

After a very long and tedious history lesson about the origins of democracy and attempting to define the word, Todd Whitcombe arrived at the real point of his latest column: to persuade his readers that what we have in the way of an electoral system is quite OK and satisfies the definition of democracy.

I disagree with him. Inherent in the meaning of democracy is an equal right to participate in the discussion. Since we have a representative system of government, the equal right to participate translates to each voter's vote having the same value. That isn't the case with our unfair and undemocratic system.

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How is that possible? It's possible, because with first past the post, coupled with a riding system, some votes have more value than others. Unless supporters of a certain party are concentrated enough in a riding, their votes don't elect anyone.

In safe ridings, voters supporting parties other than the "safe" party, might as well not come out to vote. Their vote is wasted.

A party whose supporters are scattered around the province, may be very numerous, but if they are not concentrated in a riding, they will not get the number of seats they deserve. An example was the Green Party in 2017 - 17 per cent of the votes, almost half of what the other parties received, and only three per cent of the seats.

First past the post is not democratic. It distorts the will of the people. In 1996 Gordon Campbell's Liberals won the popular vote by three per cent and lost the election to the NDP.

Proportional representation gives the same value, more of less, to each vote. In B.C., 50 per cent of votes do not elect a candidate. In Scandinavian countries, under PR, over 95 per cent of the votes go to electing someone.

Which is the more democratic? Vote yes for PR and electoral reform. If you don't like it after two election cycles, there is a money back guarantee through a referendum to go back to first past the post.

Daryl Sturdy,


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