Small Realities

Inside the mind of Lance Schonberg

Strategic Voting, Round 2

It’s always nice to receive a comment of any kind since it means someone’s actually reading what I write.  Thought I’d take this comment and make a post out of my response instead of just commenting back.  It made me think a little but not change my mind at all.

“As for strategic voting, it assumes that an individuals concerns and vote count for nothing. By voting strategically you are taking away funds from the smaller parties and are ensuring that only the old-boy parties are left to run again in the next elections. It destroys democracy as much as this first past the post wins everything system does. Ah well. It’s the new fad. Long live hairy women and bell bottoms. Written by: Anonymous”

Wish you’d left a name.  Maybe next time?

I think I have to disagree with the assumption that the individual vote means nothing in strategic voting.  But I do think that each vote means less than it did in days of yore when our two-party election system only had two parties.  You’d had enough of one, you voted for the other.  In a four or five party system, it’s dysfunctional.

The Liberals came up with a majority government in 1993, 1997, and 2000 with never more then 41.3% of the popular vote, and that 41.3% gave them a strong majority.  Is this right?  Should a government have solid majority power in this country when 6 in 10 people didn’t vote for it?

With the amount of vote splitting on the left at this point, strategic voting fills a valid need.  Say in the current election, you’re an NDP supporter (for example) and you really don’t want the Conservatives in power again, you’d normally vote NDP.  But what if the NDP doesn’t even have a snowflake’s chance and it’s a close race with the Liberal candidate, or vice versa?  You still don’t want the Con in, but with no hope of getting who you really want, your best hope of turfing your nemesis is to vote Liberal, much as it might hurt.

Strategic voting is hardly a perfect tool and it does nothing to address the huge gaping wounds in the system we’ve got.  I’d far rather vote for something than against something, but it gives us a partial balance.  And if, like me, you don’t live in a riding with a tight race, you vote your conscience.

Destroys democracy?  No.  Distorts?  Maybe, but perception isn’t reality, no matter how often you hear someone say it.  Strategy is important in any blood sport, and it makes sense to turn your vote into the biggest hammer you can.

I think a bigger issue is apathy.  Not even 65% voter turn out in the last election.  The Cons got 36.3% of 64.7%, so 23.5% of eligible voters put the government in power that currently runs things and wants to keep doing it.  That’s scary.


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