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Debate: First past the post voting

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Is first past the post voting a good idea?

Background and context

First past the post voting is a system in which elections are won by the highest polling candidate, not necessarily the one (if any) that secures a majority.

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Argument 1:

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Pro

first past the post is a fair method of electing individuals to power.




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Con

  • First-past-the-post voting elects "false majorities." Andrew Coyne. "The Case Against First Past the Post." September 26, 2007: "Consider some of the results of recent elections. In Ontario, an NDP government was elected in 2000 with 37% of the vote. In British Columbia, the NDP won a majority of the seats in the 1996 election though it received less than 40% of the vote -- not merely fewer than a majority, but fewer than its nearest rivals, the Liberals. [...] In 26 federal elections since 1921, there have been 16 majority governments elected, but only two that actually commanded a majority of the vote. The rest were minorities posing as majorities, wielding undivided power though as many as five voters in eight voted against them. Supporters of the status quo cite its tendency to produce stable majority governments. But these aren’t majority governments. They’re legalized coup d’etats [...] False majorities."
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Argument 2:

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Argument 3:

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  • In first-past-the-post voting, some votes count more. Andrew Coyne. "The Case Against First Past the Post." BC-STV. September 26, 2007: "Most striking of all [in first-past-the-post voting is] we do not give every citizen equal say at election time. Everyone may get one vote, that is true. But some votes count more than others. Some -- most, in fact -- do not count at all. [...] When 2.6 million federal NDP votes equal 19 seats, as in 2006, but 1.6 million Bloc votes equal 51 seats, it means that each Bloc vote was worth more than four NDP votes."


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Pro/con sources

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