Threat of extremism posed by proportional representation overstated: academics

As B.C. voters decide on electoral reform, the Vote No side is cautioning that the system would allow extremists to be elected

Images of burning tires and marching soldiers flash across the screen in a video advertisement warning British Columbia voters that proportional representation provides the “perfect platform” for extremists.

As residents of the province vote in an ongoing referendum on electoral reform, the Vote No side is cautioning that the system would allow extremists to be elected with a tiny percentage of votes and hold the balance of power with “disastrous results.”

Suzanne Anton, Vote No co-director who was attorney general in a previous B.C. Liberal government, pointed as an example to Sweden, where the far-right Sweden Democrats have roots in a neo-Nazi movement and won 18 per cent of the vote in a recent election while also picking up the third most seats in the Parliament.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the pro-rep debate

READ MORE: Is pro rep in fact ‘lit’? Horgan’s debate comment prompts online groans

It’s a chilling message for voters weighing the options of maintaining the existing first-past-the-post system or moving to proportional representation, but two political scientists say the threat is being exaggerated.

Maxwell Cameron of the University of British Columbia says proportional representation, a system in which parties gain seats according to the number of votes cast for them, typically has a moderating effect on the political landscape because parties must work together to advance legislation.

“Patterns of Democracy” author Arend Lijphart says that while it’s true an extremist party could gain seats under the system, the record of other countries shows they typically remain on the periphery.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Chilliwack school board to consider opposing current and proposed oil pipeline route

Trans Mountain runs through two school yards; district move comes as Trudeau set to approve project

Wonder Pup book series by Chilliwack author teaches kids self-regulation skills

Author Angela Murphy and illustrator Davis Graham release first book Speak Up, Wonder Pup

Chilliwack celebration to recognize first Indigenous RCMP member

Ed Kelly said becoming a Mountie was the job he dreamed of as a kid

Harrison Hot Springs to consider single-use plastics ban

Village staff will come back to council with a report on what a possible ban could look like

BREAKING: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

B.C. high school withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

Vancouver Canucks playing pre-season game in Abbotsford

Canucks hosting Ottawa Senators on Monday, Sept. 23

Mini pinscher at Maple Ridge SPCA needs spinal surgery

Bane has a painful condition known as Wobbler Syndrome

Most Read