First-Past-the-Post "explained"

The scenario: There is a club of 100 members who have a clubhouse. The washroom toilets often plug up and the first aid kit needs more supplies. A membership fee increase may be required. There will be an election for the five-member executive. Three groups, who will be labelled the Blues, the Reds and the Oranges are running a slate of five people each.

(I know this is totally unrealistic as no club I have ever belonged to has had an "election."

Normally we just tackle some unsuspecting and inattentive members, hogtie them and refuse to release them until they agree to serve.)

The Blues propose not to increase dues. They will dispense with the first aid kit entirely and with the money saved buy a bathroom plunger. People should be responsible for bringing their own band aids.

The Reds propose hiring a plumber to assess the washrooms and will refill the first aid kit. This will require a modest fee increase. Once the report comes in they will decide what action to take on the washrooms.

The Oranges propose to completely renovate the washrooms and install electronic toilets. They will buy two new first aid kits. This will require a large fee increase.

When the club members vote they are only allowed to vote for the Blue, Red, or Orange ticket. They cannot pick and choose the people or ideas they like. It is all or nothing.

The voting results are: Blue -28 Red - 24 Orange – 17. Thirty-one people did not bother to vote. Since this is a First-Past-the-Post system, the Blues win. Twenty-eight people are satisfied with the results, 41 people are unhappy as their votes counted for nothing, and a further 31 are completely clueless as to what has happened.

If this were a proportional representative system the membership would have elected two Blues, two Reds and one Orange. There probably would have been a compromise over repairing the washrooms, the first aid kit, and the dues.

But it isn't and the Blues have won. They buy the bathroom plunger. Good-hearted members buy supplies to refill the first aid kit. The toilets plug up, the plunger proves useless, and the executive is forced to close them. They try to sell it as a personal responsibility issue with a "Sh** at home” campaign. It does not go over well and they are forced to purchase and install a portable toilet in the parking lot. So as not to increase dues they charge a toll on toilet use.

Perhaps this is an exaggeration. But every vote should count and in FPP it does not. Most times if a party receives 40 per cent of the vote it will have a solid majority. Still its policies may not represent the views of the majority.

Worried that that under Proportional Representation that radicals may be elected? Just consider that Donald Trump and the Republicans were elected under a FPP system.


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