Saturday, January 9, 2010

Numbers to Make You Ill

Did YOU vote for Stephen Harper to be Prime Minister of Canada? In theory, no one did. But in practice, given Canada's democratic system that elevates parties to the detriment of voters' interests and preferences, that's what a few rare number of us did do:

Total votes in the riding of Calgary-Southwest on October 14, 2008: 52,996
Total votes cast for Stephen Harper: 38,548
Total votes cast in the general election: 13,834,294
Total number of people eligible to vote: 23,677,639 

Because Stephen Harper is leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, he ipso facto became the Prime Minister of the country, which means...

On October 14, 2008, 1 out of every 359 voters determined who would be Canada's next Prime Minister. Worse, that's 1 out of every 614 registered voters. How warm and fuzzy those rare few people must feel, to have chosen who would dictatorially preside over us all!

Some more numbers:

Voter turnout in Calgary-Southwest: 58.4 percent
Voter turnout in the general election: 58.8 percent

Voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian history.

Does anyone wonder why?

Don't blame non-voters. That is the typical knee-jerk reaction to such numbers.

There's no reason to think that voting patterns among non-voters would be dissimilar to those among voters. That is, there's no reason to suppose that the percentages of votes by party and hence votes to individual party candidates, wouldn't break down as they do now. It would still be the case that with our multiple political parties the results of elections under our antiquated single member plurality voting system do not fairly represent the choices of the electorate.

That's one reason why people are turning away in droves from the polls on election day. They may not be able to articulate it as the reason, but they know deep in their guts that something is terribly wrong.

[Cross-posted at Challenging the Commonplace]