— Measuring Unfairness —
Calculating Canada's Gallagher Index

In 2015, the Liberal Party had 19% of the popular vote and 11% of the seats in parliament. On October 5th, they released their party platform stating that they were committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.

What is first-past-the-post?

Canada's Special Committee on Electoral Reform

On June 21st, 2016, the all-party Special Committee on Electoral Reform began its work engaging with Canadians to find our best way forward. On December 1st, they came back with a 168 page report with 13 specific recommendations. Recommendation #1?

Canada should move to a proportional system.
To pick a new system, we have to measure how fair it is.
We can measure fairness using the Gallagher Index.

Maryam Monsef (Minister of Democratic Institutions) criticised the recommendation of the Committee, reading the forumla out loud without explanation.

While she later apologized, the doubt was raised. Is measuring fairness too complex?

Click here to try it out yourself
with an interactive Gallagher Index calculator

So is Canada Fair?

At least with respect to proportionality, not yet. But page 70 of the Special Committee's report highlighted the Gallagher Index of several considered systems, six of which meet the recommended threshold of 5%.

Voting system Gallagher Index
Alternative Vote 19.0%
First-Past-The-Post 12.0%
AV+ 13.4%
Mixed Member Proportional (Lite) 9.0%
Mixed Member Proportional (Small Regions) 3.8%
Rural-Urban PR (More Singles, 389 Seats) 1.9%
Rural-Urban PR (Few Singles) 2.4%
Riding Centric Rural-Urban PR 1.5%
Rural-Urban PR (More Singles, 338 Seats) 2.7%
Single Transferable Vote (Medium-sized Regions) 3.3%
Single Transferable Vote (Small Regions) 5.6%

The Liberal Party Platform clearly says "we will use accurate data to make good decisions", but accurate data requires measurement. The Gallagher Index measures how fair our elections are.

A broken promise

Winning having won 54% of the seats with 39% of the vote and finding overrepresented, the Liberal Party's tone in 2016 was significantly more hesitant. In 2017 the promise was officially broken.

The decision isn't surprising given the Liberal Party's historical benefit from first-past-the-post.

What you can do