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The Political Consequences of the Alternative Vote: Lessons from Western Canada

  • Harold J. Jansen (a1)

Abstract. The alternative vote (AV) is an increasingly popular proposal for electoral reform, largely due to Australia's success with it. This article considers the experiences of Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia with AV in past provincial elections. AV had little impact on proportionality and voter turnout, but did contribute to significantly higher rates of ballot rejection. AV was associated with an increase in the number of parties competing in elections, but this is more likely due to a changing social structure than electoral system change. AV facilitated coalitions where incentives to cooperate already existed, as in British Columbia, but it did little to encourage or induce coalitions in Alberta and Manitoba. On balance, it differed little from the single member plurality system.

Résumé. Le vote préférentiel (PV) est une proposition de plus en plus populaire de réforme électorale. Son attrait s'explique en grande partie par son succès en Australie. Cet article étudie les expériences de VP lors d'élections provinciales au Manitoba, en Alberta et en Colombie-Britannique. Le VP a eu peu de répercussions sur la proportionnalité et sur la participation électorale, mais a contribué à augmenter considérablement le nombre de bulletins de vote rejetés. On observe, en association avec le VP, une augmentation du nombre des partis en présence, mais ceci était vraisemblablement dû à l'évolution des structures sociales plus qu'au changement du système électoral. Le VP a facilité les coalitions lorsque des raisons de coopérer existaient déjà, comme en Colombie-Britannique, mais n'a guère encouragé ni provoqué de coalitions en Alberta ni au Manitoba. En définitive, la différence avec le système majoritaire uninominal a été négligeable.

Corresponding author
Harold J. Jansen, Department of Political Science, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4;
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
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  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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