Opinion Letters

Did Manitobans really vote to give Selinger almost two-thirds of the Legislature?

Eduard Hiebert, St. Francois Xavier

Shining light on the paper thin electoral code that all political leaders love to use for obscuring several natural democratic principles of fair play, illuminates that the answer is an emphatic and resounding "no"!

Defining and differentiating between the total "electorate" and the "selectorate" - those that vote to select the elected - in round numbers, Manitoba's 751,000 strong electorate brought down to a selectorate of 431,000 - those who voted. This smaller group was further divided among 208 candidates so that the 57 who were "declared elected" only had the support of 250,000! That's right! The entire crew of the 57 seat legislature comprising one Liberal, 37 NDP and 19 PC, was only supported by 57.9 per cent of the voters or about one third of the eligible electorate. And the partisans' share who will form government? Only 35.6 per cent of the selectorate - a mere 20.5 per cent of the electorate!

Canada's voting system translated this paltry support (20.5 per cent electorate, 35.6 per cent selectorate) into 65 per cent of the seats in the legislature! Almost 80 per cent of the electorate - 64.4 per cent of the selectorate - never voted for the 37 NDP MLAs, yet Selinger now controls 65 per cent of the legislative seats. Note, votes for the 151 candidates not elected are given equal weight to the degree these candidates have a say or standing within the legislature!

So, how does Canada's voting system make such anti-democratic results possible?

Canada's single-mark ballot system, often disingenuously misnamed for what it really truly is not -- a "first-past-the-post" system -- is, the truth be told, extremely vulnerable to vote-splitting. Vote-splits divide the voice of a genuine popular majority and are easily manufactured to produce a victorious candidate who is not supported by the majority.

In Saskatchewan's 2007 election, 10 MLAs were supported by a solid 50 per cent plus 1 democratic majority, not only of those who voted, but of the entire electorate. In Manitoba? Not one! Even Steinbach's Kelvin Goertzen (PC) whose highly touted plurality of 85.2 per cent represents but a 43.3 per cent electorate plurality! Every one of Manitoba's other 56 declared elected MLAs had even less support. All the way down to Tyndall Park's Ted Marcelino (NDP) with a selectorate plurality of only 44.75 per cent or Flin Flon's Clarence Pettersen (NDP) electorate plurality of 20.76 per cent. Not a single MLA was endorsed by an honest 50 per cent plus one majority of the electorate and six were declared elected where among those who voted, a clear 50 per cent plus one majority never voted for the one declared elected!

Using these outcomes as a benchmark, three candidates had better vote pluralities than Marcelino, but were not elected. These three, plus a further 21 had better electorate pluralities than Pettersen, but were not elected!

Had on average as few as 610 additional voters presented themselves at 10 key districts and voted PC, then the PC crew would have had a razor thin phony majority of 29 MLAs to the NDP's 27 and Liberal's one! It is absurd that an additional 8/10ths of one percent of the electorate showing up at the polls could shift the outcome from one lop-sided extreme to another.

Individually, people see that their wishes are not fairly reflected in election results, so it is no surprise that voter turn out is declining everywhere this defective ballot system is used. To correct this, the 2011 Liberal platform included moving to a preferential vote1,2,3... ballot.

By reducing the divide and conquer risk of vote-splits, the vote123 ballot system does empower the popular majority to elect whoever they prefer.

The casino like election outcomes are oppressive to and do not serve the general public interest, the 99 per cent.