Fairvote Canada, in a press release, says “no more evasion on electoral reform” and calls on the next government to:
1) initiate a public consultation on instituting a more proportional voting system, and
2) provide Canadians with a referendum process to choose the best voting system.
Of course, if current polling trends are more than a temporary post-debate blip, the next government could be a Conservative majority based on a mere 40% of the vote–with the two left-of-center parties having up to 45% of the vote.* In that case, any reform away from FPTP is dead. Why would a Conservative government that owes its very existence to the current electoral system seek reform?
Even a minority government–still the most likely outcome, I suspect–is not necessarily good for electoral reform. In fact, in work I am doing, I find that none of the serious moves towards electoral reform** in plurality systems in the last 20+ years has followed from minority government, despite many occurrences of minority governments. All reform processes–whatever their ultimate outcome, and several remain ongoing–have resulted from an alternation in government that followed a spurious majority (one party winning the most votes, but another obtaining a majority of seats) or a period of grossly lopsided majorities despite the two leading parties being relatively close in votes.
Neither of those conditions applies in Canada currently, though I applaud the efforts of reformers to educate the public to generate a push from “below” in favor of fairer electoral systems in Canada and elsewhere.
*In some respects, the Bloc Quebecois, which is a separatist party that competes only in its own province and will win an overwhelming majority of Quebec’s ridings despite less than 50% of the vote, is also “left.”
**Appointing a formal commission, convening a citizens’ assembly, calling a referendum, etc.
Note: Fairvote Canada’s President, Wayne Smith, has a blog about Election Canada 2006, which I just added to the F&V blogroll for the duration of the campaign.