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Think tank study pits proportional representation against first-past-the-post

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Summary

Controversial think tank argues a PR system is more likely to give us a coalition government

Pro proportional representation group says 80% of OECD countries use PR and have strong economies, stable government

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A mail-in referendum on a new voting system in B.C. gets underway next month. A new study from a controversial think tank is blasting proportional representation, and supporting the current system.

First-past-the-post features a single rep in a single member riding. Lydia Miljan with the Fraser Institute, which conducted the study, said there are holes in a proposed proportional representation system.

For example, who is held accountable when things go wrong?

“Everyone points the blame to somebody else. It makes politics a lot more complicated and difficult for the voters to make informed choices about who they want to govern them.”

Maria Doberinskaya with the Vote PR BC campaign said people she has spoken with are ready for change. “Especially with politicians saying one thing and doing another and what they see as sort of partisan bickering rather than dealing with the issues that matter to people.”

Miljan said proportional representation is more likely to give us a coalition government. “But they also have more parties involved in creating the coalition itself. So, it can take very long, sometimes — an average of about a month — before you form government.”

“Coalition governments, especially in PR countries, tend to have higher debt and deficits than do first-past-the-post,” she claimed.

Doberinskaya took a look at the Fraser Institute’s work.

“Eighty per cent of OECD countries use some form of proportional representation. We see strong economies, we see stable government. So, it’s cherry-picking certain data to try to paint the picture,” she argued.

Doberinskaya added we are seeing fewer people engaged in politics these days. “We actually see the erosion of democratic institution happening and people rejecting outright politics and politicians.”

 – With files from Hana Mae Nassar and Kurtis Doering