Our existing system has some tremendous benefits. It is transparent and verifiable. It is easy to implement, and Elections Canada has done a tremendous job of organizing the elections done in this way. We find out what the new government looks like within hours of the polls closing. Representation is local (unless candidates are parachuted from out 0f the riding), and it is widely perceived as being a legitimate system.
Where FPTP falls down is that a large number of votes are “wasted”. In the 2015 election, over 8.5 million votes (out of 17.6 million total) simply did not count, because these votes were cast for candidates who did not win. For example, if you voted Conservative in a riding which was won by the Liberals, your vote was then excluded from determining the makeup of Parliament. The purpose of proportional representation is to put these wasted votes back into the mix, so that every vote counts.
FPTP results in major swings based on a small change in support. Recent history proves this point, where the 2011 election had a majority Conservative government with 39.6% of the vote became a majority Liberal government in 2015 with 39.5%. A loss of support of 10.3% in the popular vote resulted in a loss of 24.6% of Conservative seats. The Liberal swing was even higher. When you combine these, you can see that a shift in voter preference of about 20%, resulted in a change of 43% of the seats in Parliament.
If we look at the 2015 results and compare them to popular vote, we can see that the democratic deficit is 50.6 seats. In this example, that means that the Liberal party won about 50 seats more than it deserved under a proportional system. (For a definition of democratic deficit, click here)
The same election, using a simulation of Simple MMP, produces a result where the democratic deficit is only 4.1 seats. This is a dramatic improvement over the 50.6 produced by first past the post. In fact, further analysis shows that these 4.1 seats are due to regional differences and could not have been eliminated while still preserving provincial representation as required by the constitution. Simple MMP achieves the best possible proportional representation.
Simulations show that the democratic deficit would have been reduced dramatically in all of the last 5 elections:
- 2004 – 4.2 seats
- 2006 – 4.3 seats
- 2008 – 4.3 seats
- 2011 – 5.2 seats
- 2015 – 4.1 seats
In other words, Simple MMP is about as proportional as you can get!