Bill 39 has been described as historic because our current system, commonly known as the British electoral system or first-past-the-post, has not been updated since 1862. Clearly, it no longer meets the expectations of the Québec population.
The system’s limitations
The current electoral system falls short in a number of respects, particularly in causing significant discrepancies between the will of the voters and the actual composition of the National Assembly.
Currently, a person receiving the greater number of votes is elected in a given riding even if the winning candidate did not get a clear majority. And the party who wins the most ridings will form the government regardless of the total votes it received.
The Mouvement démocratie nouvelle (MDN), which heads the Chaque voix compte (Each vote counts) campaign, states that “none of Québec’s 41 elections have led to a National Assembly which truly reflects how people voted.” This electoral system has even led to the election of a party which had won fewer votes than the party forming the official opposition no fewer than five times.
For a proportional system
A proportional system would provide fair representation of the will of the people and foster better representation for women, political diversity and our regions. Over 100 countries around the globe have opted for this system.
It is “based on the principle that the number of seats held by a party reflects the proportion of votes cast in favour of this same party,” states the MDN website.
People across Québec have been calling for this reform for some time. Throughout our history, most political parties have come out in favour of this change. Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) had made the commitment in a formal agreement to introduce a bill to change the electoral system. That, it has done. And yet, the reform has not been adopted. Clearly, François Legault has broken his promise.