Thursday, December 04, 2008

I don't usually like math

Yeah, I know what I said. I won't change anyone's mind with my fact-checkery and coherent-argumentism. But I just can't leave it alone.

A friend of mine is pissed because Stephen Harper was elected Prime Minister of Canada, and the Opposition is subverting the will of the people. Allow me to provide the facts.

Harper was elected, as I've said before, MP for Calgary Southwest. In fact, Canadians in five ridings (actually, in any riding where the leader of one of 22 parties was running, but for the sake of my sanity, we will limit to the ridings where the five major leaders were running) had a chance to elect a potential Prime Minister. That's 5 of 308 (16%). In one of those five ridings, the leader lost.

Let's look at some numbers.

Harper received 38 548 votes on election night. That's 73% of the vote in his riding. Pretty damn impressive. It's nearly 0.003% of the total vote in Canada. Clearly Harper has a mandate.

Okay, that's not fair. Let's look at something else. The other four leaders ran in four other ridings.
  • Dion received 25 095 votes, or 62% of the vote in his riding.
  • Layton got 45% of the vote in his riding: 20 323.
  • Gilles Duceppe snuck a majority in, too, with 47 975 votes, or 50%.
  • Elizabeth May lost to Peter MacKay, getting 32% of the vote (MacKay got 46%).
Of the votes cast in the ridings party leaders sought, Harper got nearly 17% of the vote. Clearly a mandate.

Wait. Still not fair. What about the votes actually cast for the party leaders? Harper did very well. Not quite 32%.

Here it is. Harper was not elected Prime Minister. He did very well in his riding. In fact, he did better than any other leader in their respective ridings. I wouldn't be surprised to find that he did better than almost any other candidate in the country.

I voted for none of these party leaders. Only 52 996 Canadians were given the opportunity to vote for our esteemed Prime Minister (0.004%). Only 227 107 Canadians were allowed to vote for a potential Prime Minister (0.016%). We didn't elect this jerk.

The Green Party of Canada received 940 747 votes and elected no one to the House. In Alberta, the CPC received 820 855 votes and sent 27 members to Ottawa. It sucks pretty seriously, but those are the idiosyncrasies of parliamentary democracy. Every time I mention it, it's pointed out that this is the system we have, and those are the breaks.

When the Opposition loses confidence in the Prime Minister, they can form a government and seek to govern. This is the system we have, kittens, and those are the breaks.

I don't like this system. It distorts the results of the vote and disenfranchises vast numbers of voters. The CPC seems like a bunch of whiners now that the rules are working against them and they've cut and run.

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