Though the special committee on electoral reform will make recommendations on a number of subjects — online and mandatory voting among them — it’s the decision on whether to switch to a proportional voting system that’s paramount, Université de Montréal political science professor André Blais told the committee Wednesday. “I will argue that the most important decision you have to make is whether to adopt some form of PR or not,” Blais told members. Reluctant to state his personal preference, Blais instead used his committee appearance to present the results of his extensive empirical research comparing outcomes under proportional and majoritarian systems, such as single member plurality or first-past-the-post system currently used in Canada. More specifically, he described the results of four studies he did with other researchers and gave the committee five conclusions they could apply in their deliberations. The studies controlled for a number of factors, but Blais stressed there’s no causal certainty and that that they didn’t look at specific systems.
The first was a study he published in The European Journal of Political Research with Agnieszka Dobrzynska in 1998, which examined turnout in 324 democratic national lower house elections held in 91 countries, between 1972 and 1995. It found turnout was three per cent higher under proportional systems.
The second study was one he conducted with Thomas Gschwend from the University of Mannheim, which looked at strategic voting in 25 democratic lower house elections to see if it was more common in majoritarian systems — a claim often made by critics. They found it didn’t. “The study indicates that the introduction of PR is unlikely to reduce strategic voting,” Blais told the committee.
Full Article: Studies show few differences among voting systems.