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.

Just Posted

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest Fire Centre region

Starting May 24, both Category 2 and Category 3 prohibitions will be in place

Convicted animal abuser Catherine Adams to return to B.C. court in July

Catherine Adams is under a 20-year ban on owning animals, from a 2015 sentence in Smithers

Good job boys

Oakley (L) and Storm sold lemonade in Houston to raise money to… Continue reading

The north, rural areas deserve own ICBC rates, says Houston council

Matter to be considered at provincial convention this fall

Houston get more initial attack crews

The BC Wildfire Service branches in Houston and Burns Lake are preparing… Continue reading

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana growing ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Nisga’a Nation tourism industry hits the road

First pilot tour to the Nass Valley is set for this summer with Indigenous Tourism BC

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Most Read