Just days away from the next federal election, questions have started to be raised about the first-past-the-post electoral system, where a party can win without actually winning the majority in the popular vote.
What is first-past-the-post?
The first-past-the-post system includes a process that allows voters to select a party representative in each riding. The individual with the highest number of votes in each riding wins a seat in the legislature, even if they do not receive the majority of votes.
Once all the winners are tallied, the party that receives the most seats gets to hold power in government.
What are people saying about it?
One of the biggest complaints with the first-past-the-post system is that a candidate does not need over 50 per cent approval to win a riding.
Justin Trudeau abandoned his electoral reform promise from his 2015 campaign, which would eliminate the current system. Back in 2018, he told CBC News he would look into it again if other federal party leaders agreed to an alternate system. There are no specific electoral reform promises in the Liberal Party’s platform.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said if he becomes prime minister, his party will get rid of the first-past-the-post system. The party’s platform states that it would bring in a mixed-member proportional representation system, which allows voters to select a party they support and a second vote for a candidate in their riding. With this system, there is usually threshold of support that has to be achieved in order to get a seat.
There is also preferential voting, or the ranked ballot system, which was used in the Prairies until the 1950s. Options on the ballot are ranked and they must have more than 50 per cent of the vote to win. First preference votes are counted and if no option has exceeded 50 per cent, the last place option’s votes are redistributed based on their second choice. The process is repeated until one option has more than 50 per cent of the votes.
Here’s a look at what is being said about the first-past-the-post system in Canada ahead of election day on Oct. 21:
I might have voted for you, but First Past the Post means that voting Liberal is basically throwing my vote away in my riding. Maybe someone should fix that 🤔— Franz Perez (@Franzieperez) October 18, 2019
The bad: First Past the Post. We’re likely heading to another split of the progressive vote on Monday. It’s still possible that a party might win 100% of the power with less than 40% of the votes. It’s time to retire First Past the Post so it can spend more time with its family. pic.twitter.com/QDA4mQQC81— MediaStyle (@mediastyle) October 18, 2019
In a first past the post system, you don't know if your vote will make any difference to the total number of seats your party of choice will get (it most likely won't). It doesn't reduce any harm for a riding to get one extra vote that only counts as a statistical number.— M. Gouldhawke ∞ (@CameronVale604) October 18, 2019
I think we're seeing the fall of the two party system, slowly however due to first past the post but it's happening in Europe, British politics as well. The us vs them days are numbered because our youth has found their voice. Minority/coalition will be new norm #worktogether— Maritime Harness Fan (@maritimeharness) October 18, 2019