It was a fascinating result last night in Ontario (I say that as someone interested in political science, not as a Liberal partisan). It’s not often in a First-Past-The-Post electoral system that you see a party fall exactly 1 seat short of a majority, but that’s what happened in the case of Dalton McGuinty and The Ontario Liberal Party. Late polls indicating a majority never materialized, or the PC party again had more dedicated partisans coming out to vote. That said, the Liberals were way behind in polls 2-3 months ago, so a win, even if it fell short of a majority, has to be a satisfying outcome for them. The Sun columnists were declaring McGuinty dead and buried 3 months ago, as you might remember. Their front page was rather amusing this AM, seeing them wail and gnash their teeth.
That leads me to the next point: the voting turnout was pathetic. It sits unofficially between 45-49%: the worst turnout in Ontario election history (beating out the last election’s poorest ever turnout). There will be some who say that this proves that we need electoral reform to get voters re-interested in the electoral process. It may be a factor, but I’m not so sure that electoral reform will cause the other 51% of the voters who didn’t vote to get all enthused again in voting. Besides, if Ontario voters wanted electoral reform, they had a chance to do it four years ago and massively rejected it (as they have in other provinces). There are others who say the negative campaigning, lack of issues and so on is what has caused the turnout to massively drop. That may also be true, but those underlying factors are not going away.
It may now be time for Ontario and the rest of Canada for that matter to consider implementing what they have in Australia and other countries in Europe – and that is mandatory voting. If you don’t vote, you get fined. Some may see that as drastic, but other alternatives aren’t feasible or have been rejected.