First, there was the provincial election in Prince Edward Island... on Star Wars Day. The premier, Wade MacLauchlan, retained his title for the Liberal Party for the third time running. Prince Edward Island is a very small province and so, did not have many seats to fill in its legislative assembly; there were only 27 seats to be won. However, the leader for the Progressive Conservatives, Rob Lantz, lost his own seat and, as such, is unlikely to remain as party leader.
Second, there was the provincial election in Alberta. The Progressive Conservatives had been the ruling political party in the "Texas of Canada", having ruled (with a stranglehold on the province) since 1971, but the call of an early election by the Conservatives cost them the election as they were thrown into third place behind the relatively unknown Wildrose Party and the majority-winning New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Rachel Notley. This was an incredible win for the NDP, especially where this was well known for its Conservative politics (N.B. The Prime Minister's constituency is in Calgary.) and as there is a federal election coming up in October. The fact the Prime Minister's own party lost Alberta did not go down well with his party, especially when Peter MacKay went on record to label Alberta as having turned into "Albertastan"; fortunately, graphic designer, Laura Lynn Johnston, chose to parody this by designing Albertastan t-shirts with profits going to charity... since then, I have urged Peter Mackay to buy one of her t-shirts and if you have access to Twitter, then please do the same, urging @MinPeterMackay to buy her shirt for charity (and yes, there is a blue shirt for him to choose if he wishes).
Third, there was the national election in the United Kingdom. Leading up to the close of the polls at 10:00pm, it was being predicted that the Conservatives would hold a minority with the Labour party being a close second. However, at 10:00pm, that suddenly changed, with the Conservatives suddenly having an "almost majority" and Labour trailing with almost 90 fewer seats. What nobody was expecting, though, was what happened later in the morning as the Conservatives miraculously pulled off a majority win, having just jumped over the 325 seat boundary to earn 331 seats in Parliament. I am quite certain even David Cameron was shocked by these results... happily so, but shocked nonetheless. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was surprised when the 10:00pm predicted had her winning 58 of the 59 Scottish seats; she admitted she wasn't expecting to win THAT many, but she did end up winning 56 seats. The Liberal Democrats, after having formed a coalition with the Conservatives (i.e. after having made a deal with the devil), were simply blasted out of the water, losing almost all of their seats and being reduced from nearly 50 seats to less than 10 this time around.
One of the big themes that came from all of these elections was the unfair distribution of seats. The provincial elections in Canada were a little bit telling of this issue, especially in Alberta, where the NDP did not have a majority of the popular vote, but had a majority of the seats. The UK election, though, was very much telling of this: The controversial United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) won only one seat... but this is actually pretty sad for democracy because they had nearly 4 million votes cast for them throughout the country. If proportional representation was given throughout the nation, then there would be no outright winner and instead, we would still be waiting to see who will be the Prime Minister.
However, there is one key issue with proportional representation... and that is regionality. A nation is divided into regions (i.e. provinces, territories, states, counties) and each region will want its voice represented fairly as well. As each region will respond differently to each party's policies, but also as each region has a significantly different population to most other regions, proportional representation would not benefit a House of Commons, full of local Members of Parliament elected to represent each constituency and region of the nation. There is an alternative, though... and that is the alternative vote. One of my friends, Matt Parker, wrote an article on this in the L.A. Times, discussing how the alternative vote system works and how it would help to destroy 2-party politics. It is quite an intriguing system... unfortunately, the alternative vote was shut down in a referendum vote in the last Parliament, so there will likely be no mention of this again for some time, even though this election was more imbalanced than it has been in several decades (or possibly ever).
Another issue is the fact that the United Kingdom, unlike Canada, is not actually a federal nation. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland each have their own devolved Parliamentary systems, but England does not, so its voice comes only from Westminster, which governs the whole of the U.K. It is perhaps better for the U.K. to fully become a federal nation so that English politics can be voted on without the involvement of the other regions of the U.K. interfering. Also, there has been some question about the functionality of the House of Lords and how they are chosen. Nonetheless, in the U.K., the House of Lords tends to have suitably chosen members who will not favour one party over another. In Canada, however, this is not necessarily the case, as we have very easily learned from the Mike Duffy scandal. For Canada, it may actually be better to find some means with which to elect the senators... but perhaps this is where proportional representation can play its part.
So here is what I was thinking we need to be doing:
If a government has two elected bodies through which all laws are created, passed, and verified, then, when we have an election to determine who will be our Prime Minister, we need to use our votes in a double-count system, where we vote for our local MPs:
- Voting for our MPs is to be determined through the alternative voting system, as detailed in Matt Parker's article.
- All first choice votes are counted to determine the popular vote, which will then be used to create a proportional representation within the Senate / House of Lords. Each party leader will then be told to select its senators / lords based off these numbers.
This may seem a bit more complex, but it would definitely be fairer than the current system, which allows people to hold majority governments with full and absolute control without having the support of the majority of those who voted in the first place. With today's technology, it should not be so difficult to implement and calculate winners based off these methods, so it really ought to be implemented. For David Cameron, who has been rumoured to claim he will not seek to run for a third term, it may be worth implementing such a strategy; although it would obviously appear deliberate as he wouldn't be seeking another term, it would create a dynamic shift in politics, which may bring a renewed interest in politics and also create a positive legacy for Cameron as a leader who cares enough to seek better representation of the people's interest in Westminster.
The question for now, though, is what will we get for the next 4 - 5 years? There is a LOT of speculation at the moment... and it hasn't been one full week yet since these elections took place. We will eventually learn what to expect as events unfold, but for now, we need to continue working hard to ensure that horrible policy ideas do not appear and that new and exciting ideas emerge so that we can begin to see progress in our respective lands.
The Canadian Cat