Political And Social Implications Of The Electoral System

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The electoral and party systems have important implications in the Canadian political system, but their impact runs deeper than simply forming a new parliament every time an election takes place. The relationship the systems share has political and social impacts. Author Alan C. Cairns discusses the functions of the two systems and the effects they have on the electorate in his article “The Electoral System and the Party System in Canada, 1921-1965*.”

The electoral system used in Canada is Single Member Plurality (SMP,) which is designed in such a way that the outcome of any election is explicit. The tendency to examine the system by comparing it to proportional representation is common, but Cairns find that there are better means to do so.
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SMP aims to create stable government and opposition, but the data Cairns presents finds that in most cases, the electoral system fails to do this. The allocation of seats creates greatly distorts party representation in parliament. The first issue lies in the system’s tendency to award the winning party a higher percentage of seats than votes received, yet still fail to create majority governments on many occasions (as can be seen from 1921 to 1965.) Another problem stems from the disproportionate representation of regional minority parties. Political organizations of this nature can better appeal to the needs and ideals of a region than a large catch – all party, and can gain the support of such a constituency. This leaves losing majorities and small umbrella parties with fewer seats in the …show more content…
The divides created by SMP causes political organizations to focus on their interests and political gains rather than those of the constituents, therefore preventing all constituents from having direct political representative in parliament and deepening sectional divides. The subject matter and position presented in “The Electoral System and the Party System in Canada, 1921-1965*” is important to Canadian political discourse because it provides a deep analysis into how the electoral systems and party systems function together. As the author points out, the systems may be different, but they do not operate independently of one another and affect each other. The electoral system determines who will hold representative positions in the House of Commons, and these representatives come from the different parties and hold different values. Comparing the current electoral system to other models is a simplistic analysis that is ineffective because it does not consider the social factors that impact politics in Canada, and is extremely general. To fully understand what creates sectional divides politically, Canadian citizens must first understand the organizations and actors in the system and how they interact. Electoral reform is also an important issue in Canada, but reform (or educated reform discourse)

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