By the Numbers: Proportional representation vs. first-past-the-post

Toronto – December 16, 2016 – After consulting with Canadians across the country on whether we should change our voting system, the House of Commons’ Special Committee on Electoral Reform has recommended a system of proportional representation for Canada.

The Committee also says the federal government should hold a referendum on the issue of electoral reform, offering Canadians a choice between our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, and one based on proportional representation (PR). Below is a by-the-numbers look at FPTP and PR, and how they differ.


The number of majority governments in Canada since World War 2.


The number of majority governments that have actually won a majority of the popular vote since World War 2.


The percentage of the popular vote that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party received in the 2015 Federal Election, which was held under our current FPTP electoral system.


The percentage of seats in Parliament that the Liberals received as a result of winning 39% of the popular vote in the 2015 Federal Election.


The amount of power that the Liberals now exercise as a result of winning 54% of seats in Parliament, and forming a majority government, in the 2015 Federal Election.


The number of votes that were “wasted” in the 2015 Federal Election because they went to opposition parties and candidates that will not have a chance to govern cooperatively under our existing system.


The number of countries that use proportional voting systems globally.


The percentage of countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that use proportional voting systems. These rich and developed countries include Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, and Scotland, as well as others.


The percentage of voters who voted in favour of a Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) electoral system in a recent plebiscite on electoral reform in Prince Edward Island (PEI).


The percentage of expert witnesses who expressed a preference for proportional representation at hearings and town hall meetings conducted by the federal Special Committee on Electoral Reform.


The approximate percentage of seats in Parliament that a political party would win if, under a PR electoral system, it won 30 percent of the popular vote in an election.

December 30

The deadline to tell the Trudeau Liberals that you want a fair and proportional voting system by responding to the government’s survey on democracy and electoral reform at Here is a guide for answering the survey to ensure that your responses effectively advocate for PR.

Sources: Fair Vote Canada, “Myths and Facts about Proportional Representation”; Fair Vote Canada, “Proportional Representation the only credible option for 2019”; Ed Broadbent, “How to stop a Trump: Proportional representation,” The Globe and Mail, 30 November 2016.