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In Defense of Majoritarianism

Stanley Winer ()

No 17-06, Carleton Economic Papers from Carleton University, Department of Economics

Abstract: The majoritarian parliamentary electoral system of Canada has been in existence in the same form since the founding of the modern state in 1867. In this short paper I offer a defense of Majoritarianism when the alternative is some form of Proportional Representation. While the individual arguments I employ are well known, the train of reasoning here is, to my knowledge, unusual in the current Canadian context. These remarks were prepared as an opening statement for a debate on electoral reform at a Faculty of Public Affairs conference in honor of Carleton University's 75th anniversary, March 3, 2017. The debate arose because of the Prime Minister's announced intention to replace the current system with some other during the election campaign that led to his victory in 2015. The debate occurred several months after the release of a lengthy report on electoral reform by a special all-party committee of the House of Commons. A few weeks before the debate, the Prime Minister announced (independently of the debate, of course) that his government would no longer pursue electoral reform, perhaps because it looked like he would not be able to avoid a referendum, a process which is hard to control. In any event, and especially in the light of recent attempts to change the electoral system both at the federal level and in some provinces, I think it is important for people to understand why the existing electoral system is a sensible one that likely will continue to serve us reasonably well.

Keywords: electoral reform; Canada; majoritarianism; proportional representation; index of proportionality; principle of representation; principle of responsibility; good government; leap of faith (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D70 D72 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pol
Date: 2017-03-29
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Published: Carleton Economic Papers

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