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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Regionalism, majority government and the electoral system in Canada : the case for two-seat constituencies Sutherland, Neil John


A continual problem in Canadian politics is regional conflict. There are several reasons why the major issues in Canadian politics are regionally-defined. Some of the socio-economic variables include ethnicity and economic bases, which are reinforced by geography. Some of the political variables include the division of powers between the central and provincial governments, and the regional concentration of party representation in the central government legislature. At the level of the electorate, Canada's national political parties actually receive multi-regional support. Thus, introducing an electoral system that translates votes into seats more proportionately than the present system should increase the multiregional representation of Canada's political parties at the level of seats in the legislature. However, introducing a more proportional electoral system would probably decrease the likelihood of a party forming a majority government. Consequently, if Canada's legislators felt that executive stability through majority government was a more important normative criterion (along with whatever vested interests they might have) than a government with multiregional representation, then proposals for a more proportional electoral system will remain an academic exercise. The objective of this study was to find an alternative electoral system which satisfies both the criteria of majority government and multiregional representation. Based on the premise that the most significant independent variables affecting majority government and multiregional representation are district magnitude and geographical distribution of partisan support, it was hypothesized that Increasing the district magnitude from one to two, or from one to three, would maintain the bias in favour of and increase the multiregional representation of a large, diffuse party. The results of the study show that a district magnitude of two would provide a large diffuse party with a majority of seats for the same voter support as the present system does. In addition, DM2 rewards this large diffuse party with the seats necessary to form a minority government at a much lower voter support level than does the existing system. Thus, DM2 solves the problem of underrepresentation of regions in the government party, and is at the same time even more advantageous to a large diffuse party than is the present electoral system.

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