Douglas Todd: Coalition governments common, responsive and mostly stable

Too bad those competing to head B.C.’s Liberal party can’t take full rhetorical advantage of the alleged crisis this week in Germany’s coalition government.

The would-be Liberal leaders seem dead-set against British Columbians voting one year from now, in November 2018, for a new way of electing a government, which could include proportional representation.

North American foes of proportional representation often argue it will lead to more minority and coalition governments — and they habitually make their case by cherry picking times such governments run into difficulties.

So, for the B.C. Liberals, it’s unfortunate Germany will have sorted out Angela Merkel’s struggles by the time British Columbians have a referendum next fall: Germany will likely have another solid coalition government by then, as it has for more than 60 years.

In Europe about 20 countries, including the Netherlands and France, operate most of the time in coalitions. They’re also common in Japan, Indonesia and Australia. Even Canada federally, and Manitoba, Ontario and B.C., have had coalitions.

They’ve never been perfect. What form of democratic government is? But many argue that minority and coalition governments are superior to the first-past-the-post system, which has been the norm in Canada, the U.S. and Britain.

B.C.’s first-past-the-post system, in which the party with the majority of elected MLAs (often not the majority of votes) gets to form government, hands incredible power not only to one party, but to one person, the leader of the winning party.

First-past-the-post might be doing British Columbians more harm than good.

For one thing it’s noted for polarization. It tends to so do so more than coalitions, in which cabinet ministers come from different parties. (The current B.C. situation is not a coalition but a minority NDP government supported by the Greens.)

If you want to see examples of the polarizing effects of first-past-the-post, just ask Americans. They …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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