Review Essay - Democratic Leviathan: Defending First-Past-the-Post in Canada

Dennis Pilon


This review essay examines a number of recent books claiming to offer a defence of Canada's traditonal first past the post voting system. The works can be divided into two camps, one Conservative, the other liberal, though their logic, arguments, and evidence are surprisingly similar. Through a detailed engagement with each work, this review argues that both versions ultimately defend first past the post as an effective ‘democratic leviathan’ in that the voting system tends to produce a strong, single party legislative majority government that can rule unhindered while it remains in office. Thus, for these authors, considerations of stability and legislative efficiency trump all other concerns e.g. representation, diversity, majority rule, electoral competitiveness, etc. However, in making their case, the contributors largely fail to seriously engage opposing views or the relevant academic literatures, particularly relevant Canadian work.


voting system, electoral reform, democracy

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125