Only 18.28% of Canadians voted for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in 2011

Just to be clear, as Stephen Harper always claims to be, I’m not arguing here that because just 18.28% of Canadians actually voted for Stephen Harper in the 2011 general election that he has no right to govern.  Given the ‘first past the post’ electoral system we have in Canada this is what we get, a prime minister who can rule the country with just a little over 18% of Canadians voting for him.  To put this in perspective, George W. Bush had only 14% of Americans vote for him when he first got elected president so Mr. Harper at least did better than George W.

Let’s look at the numbers.  On May 2nd, 2011, the day of the last federal election, Elections Canada reported that there were 31,612, 897 Canadians.  This does not jive with the Census numbers which came to 33,476,688, but that’s got nothing to do with the argument here.  Of those 31,612,897 Canadians, 24,257,592 (76%) were eligible to vote.  Some were only 1 week old and they were not eligible, neither were millions of others below the voting age.  A small number weren’t eligible to vote for a number of other reasons.

In any case, of those 24, 257,592 who could vote, only 14,823,408 actually did for a voter turnout rate of 61%.  We won’t ask the 9,434,184 registered voters why they didn’t bother to vote, that would be rude and intrusive.

It turns out that the Conservative Party with Stephen Harper as its leader got 39% of the vote.  That means that he actually got 5,781,129 voters who actually turned out vote for him and his party.  Who knows what would have happened if all eligible voters had turned out.

Now, how did I get to the 18% I announced in the first paragraph above.  Well, the 5,781,129 people who voted for Harper account for about 18.28% of the population.  Like I said, calculating the numbers this way isn’t entirely fair to Mr. Harper and the Conservatives, but it does reflect a certain reality that cannot be ignored.  A little over 18% of the population actually went to the polls and voted Conservative.  They elected our current federal government.  To me this is a great argument for a new system of electing our politicians.  Maybe we should try proportional representation.  See how that goes.  Have a look at this video by my friend, John Higginbotham:

3 thoughts on “Only 18.28% of Canadians voted for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in 2011

  1. Just read this before going to bed at 2:30 a.m. Monday. Yes, we do need some changes to our federal voting system. I ought to look further into how it works. I must admit that I’ m not clear on what “first past the post” actually means. Is our system exactly like that of the UK? (I somehow doubt it, but know that it was modelled after the British parliamentary system.) Only those registered to vote in Harper’s electoral district have a chance to vote for him ( or at that time Ignatiaff, Mulchair, or May) None of the rest of us Canadians can choose the Prime Minister. The best we can do is vote for our local rep for the party of our choice (at least that’s usually what I do)

    By the way, what happened to all the research into changing the BC method of voting provincially? It seems dead in the water now. Do you recall what I mean?


  2. Thanks for that link. The older I get, the more I forget.Time seems to fly by and there are a lot of memories stuffed into our brains. Sometimes a few pertinent details slip through the cracks.


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