This map comes from the PEW Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, DC, and shows how the Freedom House rates the electoral systems in the world.

Proportional representation but may only legitimize marginality

Dear Editor,

Electoral reform intends to better represent citizens. Proportional representation may but does not necessarily do that. A strict two-party system may also, and may do it better.

In defense of proportional representation and to correct Ellis Ross, there are examples of it that function acceptably, notably New Zealand, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Equally, in defense of first-past-the-post, or a two-party system, and to correct Jennifer Rice, proportional representation is not necessary for broad representation, and it may even undermine it, depending on coalition weighting.

At its simplest, governance requires proposition and opposition to refine policy for legislation. Advanced political culture facilitates multiple representation within a rights environment of best practices. Multiple parties are not necessarily needed; two parties alone can also adopt best practices. Most important is an opposition, however it is formed.

A two-party system equally relies on coalition. Its advantage is greater familiarity with and inclusion of coalition members, who are also party members or who accept the party’s policy. Party constitution would necessarily welcome plurality to maximize the vote.

Proportional representation coalitions begin informally before elections and may hold during and after, but factionalism can compromise governance more than it does single-party governance with a single-party opposition.

The desire for proportional representation shows how diverse and unequal we both still are and are increasingly becoming. Defense of our rights environment proposes proportional representation but may only legitimize marginality.

The system that best addresses inequality and marginality also attempts to end them. Much work remains for that.

David Heinimann

Terrace, BC

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