Threat of extremism posed by proportional representation overstated: academics

Threat of extremism posed by proportional representation overstated: academics

As B.C. voters decide on electoral reform, the Vote No side is cautioning that the system would allow extremists to be elected

Images of burning tires and marching soldiers flash across the screen in a video advertisement warning British Columbia voters that proportional representation provides the “perfect platform” for extremists.

As residents of the province vote in an ongoing referendum on electoral reform, the Vote No side is cautioning that the system would allow extremists to be elected with a tiny percentage of votes and hold the balance of power with “disastrous results.”

Suzanne Anton, Vote No co-director who was attorney general in a previous B.C. Liberal government, pointed as an example to Sweden, where the far-right Sweden Democrats have roots in a neo-Nazi movement and won 18 per cent of the vote in a recent election while also picking up the third most seats in the Parliament.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the pro-rep debate

READ MORE: Is pro rep in fact ‘lit’? Horgan’s debate comment prompts online groans

It’s a chilling message for voters weighing the options of maintaining the existing first-past-the-post system or moving to proportional representation, but two political scientists say the threat is being exaggerated.

Maxwell Cameron of the University of British Columbia says proportional representation, a system in which parties gain seats according to the number of votes cast for them, typically has a moderating effect on the political landscape because parties must work together to advance legislation.

“Patterns of Democracy” author Arend Lijphart says that while it’s true an extremist party could gain seats under the system, the record of other countries shows they typically remain on the periphery.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NES hosts grades 5 - 7 in Hagensborg (file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Nusatsum Elementary School

The exposure was in grade 5 and took place Jan. 6, 2021

Jeffery Snow has been our community paramedic for the past three years and has worked as a paramedic for over three decades. He is now certified to offer COVID-19 testing to clients (Caitlin Thompson photo)
Bella Coola’s community paramedic can now test people for COVID-19

Jeffery Snow became certified to offer COVID-19 testing on Jan. 13, 2021

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7 (file photo)
COVID-19 cases climb to 25 in Bella Coola

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Cariboo Memorial Hospital by Interior Health. IH said Wednesday afternoon four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Cariboo Memorial Hospital by Interior Health

Four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19

SD49 has suspended in-class instruction due to rising COVID-19 cases (file photo)
SD49 suspends face-to-face instruction due to COVID-19

School is still open for childcare services

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read