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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

#bcelection #fail.

The BC Liberals led by Premier Gordon Campbell claimed a third majority government in yesterday's provincial election, but British Columbians joined the national trend of claiming new record low voter turnouts. Voter turnout dropped from 58% in the 2005 election to 50% yesterday.

While the STV referendum was decisively defeated, two of the hand full of ridings where the STV earned majority support were Premier Campbell's Vancouver-Point Grey riding and BC NDP leader Carole James' Victoria-Beacon Hill riding.


Devin Johnston said...

The voter turnout was dismal. I wonder about two things:

1) Would STV have gained more support if the turnout had been higher? In other words, is it fair to assume that a large proportion of those who stayed home instead of voting did so in part because they are jaded by the existing electoral system?

2) If this election had been conducted under STV rather than FPTP, what effect would that have had on turnout?

SD said...

Seems to me it was only those who took some time to study and understand STV who would have voted for it. It is unlikely that the majority of people who chose not to vote were supporters.

To be honest, I was happy to see STV fail. The huge rural ridings would make it next to impossible for MLAs to stay in touch with their constituents. Further, any system that takes twenty minutes to accurately explain is not going to help keep people engaged.

Anonymous said...

Is it any wonder that Canadians are abandoning their ballots? In every province and at the national level we have these staged contests between wooden dummies who each try to "out centre" each other.

While Canadians obviously want a moderate centrist form of government, there are too few well organized parties advocating for something vastly different. Imagine if Carol James NDP had advocated for massive socialization of all of BC's major resource industries. I don't think this would have helped her win, but I bet voter turnout would go up!

People want their vote to be both for one set of ideas and clearly against another set. When all of the parties crowd into the same tiny part of the wide political spectrum, it's no wonder Canadians tune out. Unfortunately at most levels of our democracy we have made it far too difficult for people to start up new registered and recognized political parties, and so anyone with some interesting and new ideas is forced to go into one of three mental garberators that are today's parties.

Anonymous said...

Actually SD, you have it backwards, the more people learn about STV the more they don't like it. That's why the pro-STV ads were so simplistic, they tried to pull the wool over people's eyes.

Voter turnout cannot be summed up and explained so easily. It's a common tactic of the losing party to shrug off low voter turnout as a justification for why the winning party "didn't really win" (aka the Harry Chase argument). The fact is people vote if they want to vote, that is their right. To demean low voter turnout is to demean the people themselves. Choice means having the right not to choose as well. So let's not overreact here.

Russ Brown said...

Before moving to Alberta 5 years ago, I lived in BC (and was quite involved in politics there). For what it's worth, I think the failure of STV in 2009 (unlike in 2005, where BC voters came close to accepting it) was inevitable from the moment of the 2005 general election results. In 2005 British Columbians had lived for four years with something Albertans have lived for decades: a massive majority government, with virtually no elected opposition. The 2005 vote for STV, then, can be seen as at least in part a reaction to the lack of an opposition since the Liberal landslide of 2001. The 2005 general election, however, restored a workable NDP opposition to the BC Legislature, which took the wind out of the pro-STV sails.