Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bye Bye Elections

(This article is part of an ongoing series...)

I think our electoral process is broken.  Elections are held at the whim of a single party, generally at a point in time when they think they will win.  They interrupt the actual business of government, both during the election and for a period before and after it.  And to this writer, the promises made during elections are mostly forgotten once the ballets have been counted.

To fix this "brokenness", I suggest that we get rid of elections.

More specifically, we should replace the "general election" with a regular series of bi-elections.  So instead of electing 308 MP's in a single vote, we would elect one MP each week[1] or perhaps six each month.  Ideally, the elections will be in a reasonably random order, to avoid grouping specific constituencies into a single time period.

So what would this look like in practice?  Heaven knows.  In terms of campaigning, we could think of the parties as never campaigning, or always campaigning.  If the leaders spend too much time campaigning and not enough time governing, then eventually the voters will start voting for other parties.  If the government does a good job, they will see their support rise, and if they abuse their power, then you could expect seats to slip away to the opposition.

The office of the Prime Minister would change under this approach, since they might gain or lose a majority at any time.  In a minority situation, a non-confidence vote would not force an election, since general elections are no longer held.  Instead, the MP's would vote for a new PM, presumably one of the coalition leaders.

Humourous side-note: The title of this piece contains a homonym, and is somewhat of a pun.  I can think of four different interpretations of the phrase "Bye Bye Elections", each of which could have been used here.

[1] There are 308 seats in the House of Commons.  If we elect six ridings every month, then a single riding will hold an election every 51 months.  That is reasonably close to the current standard of four years for an election.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Talkin about a Revolution...

Revolution.  It's a frightening concept, but at the same time it's tremendously exciting.  There's been a lot of revolution in our world this year, and I'd like to think that this is a good thing.

While other people are rising up and over-turning their political systems, I think that there's a need for everyone to give thought to their own government, how it works, and especially, how it doesn't work.  Any human system is a compromise built to meet the needs of its constituents, and once these compromises have been reached, we rarely review them.  And can you blame us?  Redefining a political system is painful and hard.

I think that our system (the Canadian Federal Government) works for the most part, but that it is also somewhat broken.  So I'd like to throw some ideas on the table in order to foster some reflection and discussion.  Over the next couple of weeks I will be publishing some articles/essays on alternative approaches that might improve upon, or at least question the "status quo".