An Institution at Impasse: The ‘Economics’ of Electoral Reform in Canada


  • Kyle Friesen


Canadian democratic institutions find themselves at an impasse: attempts at electoral reform keep appearing, yet electoral system change never results. This article explores the factors that sustain this impasse through conceptualizing the supply and demand for electoral reform in Canada. The supply side is found to be inadequate due to (1) inherent incentives in First Past the Post (FPTP), which discourage the pursuit of reform by those with the necessary political power and (2) the meddling of political elites who use their influence to create obstacles to successful reform. The demand side is found to be restricted due to (1) a lack of understanding within the electorate of electoral systems and their effects as well as (2) a normalization of FPTP which dissuades the electorate from seeing electoral reform as an important policy issue. The conclusion drawn is that without widespread change within this 'market' for electoral reform, all reform attempts will fail.