Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Putting the Canadian Conservative Victory in Perspective

Last night, the Conservative Party of Stephen Harper won a majority of seats in Canada's lower house.  This parliamentary victory gives Harper and the Conservatives control of the agenda for the foreseeable future.  Harper, who's previous minority government suffered an embarrassing vote of "No-Confidence" now has the legislative muscle to prevent a repeat.   But what does this victory look like on the ground?

Canadian House of Commons
From a parliamentary perspective, this was a stunning victory.  The Conservatives took a solid majority of the seats, 54.2% (167).  The NDP won 33.1% (102), the Liberals 11% (34),  Bloc Québécois 1.3% (4) and the Greens with 0.3% (1).  The Conservatives are untouchable at this point and can implement their policies.  But how do these distributions reflect the popular vote in Canada?

The popular vote data is interesting and I do not profess to understand the way in which seats in the Canadian House of Commons are distributed geographically.  Based on the results, the Conservatives are very over-represented and the Liberals very underrepresented based on the popular vote.
5/2/2011 Canadian Election Results - Data from Elections Canada
This goes back to a post I did earlier on the challenges of representative (as opposed to direct) democracy.  The Conservatives have a Parliamentary majority but clearly not a popular majority.  In fact, if the NDP and Liberals got together, they would represent 49.5% of Canadian voters compared to the 39.5% represented by the Conservatives.  But in Parliament, the Conservatives control 54.2% of the seats to a combined 44.1% for Liberal / NDP.  Hardly an electoral mandate.

On the plus side, the Canadians had good voter turnout: 14,720,580 of 23,971,740 registered electors (61.4%).  Well done Canada!  And I sure hope you know what you're doing...

Stephen Harper, the Once and Future Prime Minister of Canada

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