Canada is holding a federal election on Monday. Here are the main points of how the country’s electoral system works:
What exactly will happen on Monday? Canada has two houses of Parliament — the elected House of Commons and the unelected upper chamber, the Senate, where members are appointed by the government. Monday’s election is for seats in the much more powerful House of Commons. Canada is divided up into 308 electoral districts known as ridings, each of which elects a member of the House.
How are the legislators elected? Canada has a first-past-the-post system, which means that the candidate with the most votes in a particular riding is elected the member of Parliament. This system benefits parties whose strength is concentrated and handicaps those whose support is widespread but shallow in individual ridings.
For example, in the 2008 election, the Green Party received 6.8 percent of the vote but did not win a single riding. In 1993, the Progressive Conservative Party won 16 percent of the vote yet captured just two seats. In 1997, the Liberals won a narrow majority in the House with just 38.5 percent of the vote.