Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brampton West almost equals six-and-a-half Labradors

What would the federal election results have been had the winning party in each riding received a weighted share of the ridings based on the population of each riding compared to the national average? For example, the winning party would have received 0.257 seats for winning Labrador--the least populated riding in Canada. In Brampton West, Ontario, the winning party would have received 1.660 seats. Brampton West is the most populated riding.

The actual results for each party were as follows:

Conservative: 143 seats
Liberal: 76
Bloc Québécois: 50
NDP: 37
Independents: 2

Total: 308

The weighted results for each party would be as follows:

Conservative: 146.015 seats
Liberal: 75.861
Bloc Québécois: 49.025
NDP: 35.331
Independents: 1.767
Total: 308

Please note that there are no seats for the Green Party as these results are based on the redistribution of seats based on the population of each riding, not on the percentage share of the votes.

I do notice a few things:

Based on population, one could fit almost six-and-a-half Labradors into Brampton West. Labrador is not protected by a section in any of Canada's Constitution Acts. It is also not a stand-alone province or territory.
There is very little difference between the actual and weighted seat distribution amongst the parties.

If the Conservative government were nicer to Ontario by giving the province more seats, the Conservatives could get more seats--maybe even one in Toronto.

Within Ontario, there are huge disparities in riding populations such as between Kenora and Brampton West. Even with a 106 riding distribution, the Conservatives are at a slight disadvantage under the current distribution of seats.

I could write about reducing the riding disparities between and within each province. However, I prefer that Canadians could vote through some form of proportional representation. The existing antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system doesn't work for me.

If you would like an Excel copy, please email me. The images are broken up so that you can view them.

Update: For information on my Senate reform proposals, see the following links:


Wayne Smith said...

What is clear from your stats is that poor representation by population really doesn't make much of a difference.

In contrast, proportional representation would make a huge difference. NDP and Bloq would switch places, and Greens would have 20+ seats.

wilson said...

How many seats would the Christian Heritage Party win Wayne?

Wayne Smith said...

Thank you for asking!

The Christian Heritage Party is the sixth largest party, with 26,475 votes in this past election, way behind the Green Party with 937,613, but substantially ahead of the number seven party, the Marxist-Leninists, who got 8,565 votes.

In the 2008 election, there were a total of 13,834,294 votes cast to elect 308 MPs, so an average of 44,917 votes per MP.

In a maximally proportional system with a national list, something not contemplated for Canada, the Christian Heritage Party might have had enough votes to win one seat. No other party is close.

In a real-world voting system, there is likely to be a threshold of at least 2% for a party to win any list seats, or maybe 5%. This means a party would need about 250,000 to 700,000 votes to win a list seat. CH is way short.

However, under proportional representation, the Christian Heritage and other small parties would have two large advantages.

First of all, under the current system, everyone who votes for a fringe party knows his candidate has zero chance of getting elected. If that were not true, there are probably many more people who would vote for those parties.

Secondly, under the current system, you can vote for a party only if they run a candidate in your riding. CH ran only 59 candidates in this past election. Under a party list system, you could vote for a party even if there were no local party candidate.

Could these factors allow CH to get 10 times as many votes and win some list seats? Probably not, but at least they would have an outside shot. Under the current sytem, they have no hope. If they can get the votes, why shouldn't they get the seats?

What all this illustrates is that, although proportional representation will give every voter more viable choices, it is unlikely to result in an explosion of extreme fringe parties in our Parliament.