Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Poll results on Canadian public support for proportional representation

For many years, it was well-known that polls showed a strong majority of Canadians (around 70%) believe that the portion of seats a party wins in the House of Commons should reflect the portion of the votes they receive.

For example, polls showed this in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

2012 & 2013

A Forum Research poll October 27, 2012 showed this is still true: 70% of decided voters approved of proportional representation.

An Environics Survey conducted in March, 2013, found 70% support, 18% oppose, "depends" 6%, don’t know 6%. Environics asked “Some people favor bringing in a form of proportional representation. This means that the total number of seats held by each party in Parliament would be roughly equivalent to their percentage of the national popular vote. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?”

February 2010:

A poll on proportional representation was conducted by Environics Research between February 22 and 24, 2010. It found that 68 per cent of Canadians support "moving towards a system of proportional representation (PR) in Canadian elections" (as a percent of decided respondents.)

Question #1 asked in the Environics Research poll was:

There has been some discussion about reforming the electoral system in Canada. Some people favour bringing in a form of proportional representation, which means that seats in parliament would be apportioned according to the popular vote won by each party, instead of the current system of electing MPs from single-member ridings. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?

Strongly support: 23 per cent
Somewhat support: 38 per cent
Somewhat oppose: 15 per cent
Strongly oppose: 13 per cent
Don't know: 10 per cent

The results represent the findings of a telephone survey conducted among a national random sample of 1,001 adults comprising 501 males and 500 females 18 years of age and older, living in Canada. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.10 percent, 19 times out of 20.

February 2004

A Vector Research poll found 64 per cent support changing to a PR system.

2003

The 2003 Portraits of Canada, from the Centre for Research and Information on Canada, reported that 71% of Canadians support distributing legislative seats proportionally according to the share of votes received in an election. Quebecers (76%) show greater support levels than Canadians in the rest of Canada (69%) when it comes to distributing legislative seats according to the overall proportion of votes received by each party in an election. Albertans (65%) are least supportive of this potential option for change.

Also, 74% favoured allowing smaller parties to win representation in legislatures.

April 2002

Decima Research polled 1,920 voters. Leaving aside 10% undecided, 71.4% supported PR, while 28.7% opposed it.

February 2001

Ipsos-Reid interviewed a representative national sample of 1,000 adult Canadians by telephone. 64 per cent of Canadians believe that Canada’s electoral system should award seats in Parliament in proportion to the popular vote received by each party, which is of course the definition of PR.

When asked to choose between a system which produces strong majority governments and a system which gives each party a number of seats in proportion to its popular vote, Canadians choose the latter system by a margin of 60 per cent to 36 per cent.

When asked directly whether Canada’s electoral system should be changed to provide PR in the House of Commons, the majority of Canadians (59 per cent) say yes. Thirty-eight per cent say no.

In BC, a poll after the referendum showed that 44.3% of those who voted for first-past-the-post in the referendum responded they are in “favour of replacing first-past-the-post with a voting system in which the percentage of seats a party gets in the legislature is more in line with their percentage of the popular vote.” That makes 66% of BC voters in favour of some proportional system.

How would PR work? See the Law Commission of Canada Report.

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