As public confidence declines representation becomes bastardized (lower in condition or worth).
Voter turnout has declined from 79% of registered voters in 1958/1962 to 61% in 2011 with only 25% of youth(under25) casting a ballot.
Couple the 61% voter turnout with the 40% of turnout required to form a majority government means that only 24% of the population at most is represented by the political party in control of the administration of government. Is this a true mandate? Do 24% of the people actually have the authority to enact their legislation over the other 76%?
In Canada, yes they do! That is the law. Is it right? No!
Is it democratically correct? That is the debate.
Regardless of the voting method used to elect the government, be it FPTP, STV, PR or any other, without voter confidence in who is elected, true representation is limited at best. Unless those in government represent the majority of the electorate, can it be called democracy? Has the government have legitimacy?
there is a broader concern about an apparent long-term decline in public confidence in politicians and political institutions. This trend was most recently documented in a report from the Minister for Democratic Reform, released on 10 September 2007. Based on extensive public consultations, the report identifies mistrust of members of Parliament (MPs) and frustration with the operation of the House of Commons as widespread attitudes. Perhaps reflecting this trend, voter participation in federal elections has declined from the levels of 75% to 80% typical of the 1950s and 1960s, to 61.5% in the 2004 election, for example, and 64.7% in 2006. Moreover, political engagement by young Canadians has fallen to extremely low levels from a traditional 50% voter participation rate to around 25% in recent elections. These figures have led to concern about an impending legitimacy crisis relating to Parliament and politics.
Canada needs to regain trust in government. People need to trust their representatives. Our representatives, Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies, need to be accountable to those whom they represent.
and the winner is ……?
Fair Elections is the main discussion in politics this year. The election in 2015, although most likely over a year away at the time of writing this piece, underlies almost every conversation, legislation and procedure in Parliament with all political parties trying to gain one-upmanship upon the other. The newly introduced Fair Elections Act does near nothing to promote “Fairer Elections”. Many might argue that the bill sets democracy back.
and the loser is: the People of Canada? Once Again!
Regardless of the spin politicians spew out over the media, that is all it is, political spin, meant to be impressive but, in service to the public, – nothing – nada – zip.
If general elections do not provide an opportunity for voters to pass judgment on the views and performance of their MP (and her opponents), then there is little guarantee that members will use any increased power they may garner in the House of Commons to reflect the views of their constituents. Similarly, a party’s leadership is unlikely to cede authority to back bench members who lack a policy mandate from their constituents. The real dilemma then is not the role of the MP in the House of Commons, though this is certainly part of it, but rather the lack of opportunity for voters to first empower and then pass judgment on the job done by their MP. One way to rectify this problem is through reform of our electoral and parliamentary systems to allow voters to cast different votes for their preferred representative and preferred government.
When candidates are chosen by the party leadership and not local voters, it is impossible to argue that they have any mandate from their local voters separate from the party leadership. Similarly, when the governing party ensures the easy renomination of its incumbents, it provides little incentive for them to vigorously defend their constituents’ interests in their House of Commons’ work. Their renomination is automatic and their general election chances lie almost completely with voters’ views of their party’s performance and not with an evaluation of the job of the individual MP.
Latest suggestion for Redesigning Parliament to make it more relevant to Canadians: create a citizen-engaging deliberative body to advise and direct individual MPs. Vaughan Lyon, Professor Emeritus at Trent University outlines his idea for Constituency Parliaments to formalize the connection between MP and constituents, allow the MP to be truly representative and reduce the power of the party.