Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wrong Winners in Canadian Elections

A wrong winner is when a party with less overall support manages to win more seats than a more popular political party and forms government.  I am highlighting this issue because I am concerned that the proposed model for redistributing the seats for the next BC provincial election will make a wrong winner much more likely in the province.

 I can find ten examples in Canadian history of a wrong winner result.  Interestingly almost all of them resulted in majority governments.

          Govt Party Opp Party Oth Parties
Prov Elect Seats  %   Seats  %  Seats  %
Que   1998  76 42.9%  48 43.6%   1 13.6% govt defeated in 2003 
BC    1996  39 39.5%  33 41.8%   3 17.0% govt badly defeated in 2001
Sask  1986  38 44.6%  25 45.2%   1 10.0% govt badly defeated in 1991
Yukon 1985   8 41.1%   6 46.9%   2 12.0% govt re-elected in 1989
Fed   1979 136 35.9% 114 40.1%  32 24.0% minority defeated early 1980
NB    1974  33 46.9%  25 47.5%   0  5.6% govt re-elected in 1978
NB    1970  32 48.4%  26 48.6%   0  3.0% govt wrong winner in 1974
Que   1966  56 40.8%  50 47.3%   2 11.9% govt badly defeated in 1970
Que   1944  48 38.0%  37 39.4%   6 22.6% govt badly defeated in 1948
BC    1941  21 32.9%  14 33.4%  13 33.5% Libs and 3rd place Conservatives formed a coalition government which won next two elections

Among many elections before World War II there are issues with placing them on the list.   Some provinces used different voting systems in some elections.  There were also many more acclamations and often parties did not run full slates.  

What you can see from the list is that the next election for a wrong winner government tends not to do well in the next election.

Another hard one to classify is the 1985 Ontario election.   In that election the PCs managed to win four more seats than the Liberals but had 34,922 fewer votes but it was the second place Liberals that formed a government with the tacit support of the third place NDP. 

A short clip from Andrew Petter about the 1996 election.

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