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Do wrong parties ever win?

by John H. Redekop Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor of Political Science
Trinity Western University
Professor Emeritus, Political Science
Wilfrid Laurier University

Advocates of STV frequently argue that under the present BC electoral system, "wrong parties" sometimes win. By that they mean that on occasion the party which wins the most seats is not the party which has garnered the most votes across the province. In British Columbia, as also in other provinces and nationally, such electoral outcomes have occurred.

The basic fact which these critics fail to understand is that under present electoral laws, as would also be the case if STV were practiced, there is no province-wide vote for any candidates. Elections under the present law, as would also be the case under STV rules, are elections for local candidates, whether in single member or multi-member ridings, not for provincial parties.

At present in BC and across Canada, the winning party is always the party which elects the most members. Accordingly, "wrong parties" never win. The fact that sometimes some winning candidates for a losing party pile up large local majorities and thus produce a high province-wide vote total for a losing party, does not alter that fact. Whether winning candidates win by a few votes or by a huge margin does not alter the number of seats won or the fairness of the electoral results.

Let us consider a hockey analogy, particularly one which involves the Stanley cup play-off series. Here are the scores for a play-off series between the Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Note the number of goals in each game:

Game
Canucks
Maple Leafs
1
2
1
2
3
2
3
1
4
4
2
6
5
4
3
6
0
3
7
2
1
Total number of goals
14
20
Total number of wins
4
3

With four wins by Vancouver compared to three wins by Toronto, Vancouver has won the Stanley Cup. But our adamant STV advocates would argue the point vigorously. "Not fair" they would shout! "Toronto had more goals! The Maple Leafs had twenty and the Canucks only fourteen!" They would be correct in counting goals but fundamentally wrong in interpreting what they mean. Everybody understands that winning the Stanley Cup does not involve counting goals but counting wins!

Similarly, in a BC provincial election, one does not tally up all the votes, other than to get an interesting figure, one tallies the constituency wins in order to determine which party won the election.

BC voters should not be fooled by the faulty logic of the argument that under BC's present electoral laws, "wrong parties win". Under our present voting system, "wrong parties" never win!


 

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