John Cleese’s VHS-​​Era Pitch for Proportional Representation

In 4 days BC votes on the provin­cial gov­ern­ment, and more impor­tantly on whether to become the first major juris­dic­tion in North America to bring in a pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion voting system.

I have the same worries about pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion that I’ve always had — de-​​localizing politics, reducing the trans­parency and hence account­ability of the voting mech­a­nism. The Single Transferable Vote system proposed mit­i­gates the de-​​localization concern sub­stan­tially, but def­i­nitely makes my head hurt when I try to imagine how exactly a given set of marks on a ballot would trans­late into somebody getting elected or not.

That said, I still have the same hopes for a pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion system: the de-​​dumbing-​​down of politics, elim­i­nating the lowest common denom­i­nator and forcing us to actively and openly nego­tiate multiple, openly expressed values to reach workable polit­ical com­pro­mise. Enfranchisement of non-​​centrist views, maybe even a general re-​​engagement with politics. First-​​past-​​the-​​post is just a ridicu­lous way to vote.

So I’ll be voting for STV with bells on. I’m looking forward to it. If you’re still on the fence, you could go to the pro-​​STV people and watch their videos, or the anti-​​STV campaign and watch theirs. But what I really rec­om­mend is to watch the video that first got me inter­ested in pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Here it is: John Cleese on why 1980s Britain should really consider pro­por­tional representation.

Basically the same system, basi­cally the same con­ver­sa­tion, 20 years later. But I think this time we’re going to do it.

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