The 2005 and 2009 Referenda on Voting System Change in British Columbia

Dennis Pilon


British Columbia’s two referenda on its voting system produced dramatically different results. Conventional accounts of the events tend to rely on populism to explain the surprisingly high vote for the single transferable vote option in 2005 and public concern about the workings of this proposed alternative to explain the decline in its support in 2009. But as public knowledge about the referendum choices remained low in both cases it is hard to credit public reactions to the voting system options as a key factor influencing the results. A more critical reading of the events and existing academic survey work on both referenda suggest that elite manipulation of the process and changing levels of partisan insecurity between the two votes were more influential in producing these different outcomes.

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