The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

No one votes for a coalition

Borgia: How many [cardinals] would I have to appoint to keep my papacy safe?
The canon expert: Oh dear.
- Rodrigo Borgia / Pope Alexander VI, discussing expansion of the (democratic!) College of Cardinals in the series The Borgias

There is no box on the ballot marked "coalition". This much is true.

Yet there is also no box on the ballot marked "majority", or "minority", or even a box for "prime minister".

We live in a Westminster-style representative democracy. We can choose our local representatives, in hope that the views they express on the campaign trail will have some reflection in the reality of the House of Commons. That is where our democratic choice begins and ends.

All else is a matter of numbers: total number of seats, relative number of seats, what combination can hold the confidence of Parliament. It is that numbers game, combined with an ability to negotiate and compromise, that will finally decide prime minister, majority, minority, and yes, even coalition.

All of these are equally democratic options within our system. No individual voter can vote for any of them. Yet, by each voter selecting the one seen as best, all will have been chosen by the collective body of voters.

Let's run this election solely on the real issues, shall we?

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