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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A better political system

So the Conservatives under Stephen Harper have won a majority and will form the next government of Canada. From a US point of view, conservative is probably a good thing. Bush probably is thinking (well, wait...does he ever think about Canada?), "I can work with this." What is fascinating from my point of view is the difference between the electoral systems in our two countries.

Here in the US, we vote for local, regional, state and federal positions including the Poresident. In Washington State where I live, voters are forced in advance to choose a party to vote for. In Canadian federal elections, voters can still make up their minds at the poles. In Canada, you vote locally, and it is the accumulation of local preferences that create the leadership position in Parliment. The leader of the party with the majority of seats becomes the Prime Minister.

I like this system. It really is democratic in the best (and in all fairness, the worst) sense. In my opinion, better than the US system. Why? Because look at the results: In Canada, there are four parties that must get along and agree in order to move legislation forward. This is good. It requires consensus. In the US, the limited two-party system results in a majority typically getting their way...for years...

The bad in Canadian political structure? A minority government (one without a clear majority) can fall at any time. Elections can come at very short notice. Bickering and the difficulty in reaching consensus can mean that getting legislation passed in a huge political challenge.

Still and all, the Canadian political system is one that I have come to prefer. I can't imagine Bush lasting through even one question period...and that's a sad commentary.

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