Free and Proper Elections

NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

Free and Proper Elections - NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

How Do Canadian And American Federal Elections Differ?

I’m Canadian and we vote for our member of parliament in our riding. Whichever party gets the most members voted in, wins. From there, the prime minister appoints the cabinet and tah-dah…you have your government. Is it the same in the States or do you just vote either republican or democrat? I’m not that politically savvy…enlighten me, please!

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  • kozzm0 says:

    That is the sensible way to do things which is why Canada has sensible things like a national health care system while we have a health care system for rich people. Our doctors love it but I bet your doctors play golf too. The US is not a parliamentary democracy it is a representative republic. There are two houses of parliament, the Senate where each state sends two representatives, and the House where each state sends a number proportional to its population. Each House member is selected from a Congressional District, which is usually the size of a few counties. The Senators are elected statewide. The President is voted for indirectly by the people in a weird system that many people want to change. The winning candidate for President in each state gets a number of pledged “electors” from that state, equal to the number of representatives and senators that state has. Then the electors meet at the “Electoral College” and cast their votes, and then it’s official. Obama will have about 200 more electors than McCain will, assuming Missouri falls to McCain without recount, and that North Carolina falls to Obama. This system gives more power to the votes of people in small states than in large states. You don’t just vote Republican or Democrat officially, but a lot of people do anyway. The average American is not particularly educated about politics and feels more comfortable just picking a party and sticking with it. But you vote for the individual, not the party. It might be better to vote by party as it makes it much easier for third parties to form and play pivotal power-broker roles in coalition governments. But that’s not likely to happen here anytime soon. The only way 3rd parties get any power at all is if they qualify for federal matching funds by having their candidate get 5% of the presidential vote. In the last 50 years this has been achieved by only the Green Party and the Reform Party. The Reform Party did it when Ross Perot ran against Bill Clinton, it was a fragile collection of tax reformers and libertarians and quickly fell apart. Their only success was Jesse “the Body” Ventura being elected governor of Minnesota. The Green Party got its money through Ralph Nader’s 5% in 2000, Nader has since left the Greens and they concentrate on mostly local stuff now. There are many “third parties” and they remain mostly irrelevant because of the way the system works. Unlike a parliamentary system, a vote for a third party is usually a wasted vote. The Libertarians, the Greens, the Peace Party (Nader this year) and the Constitution party, as well as several “Independent parties,” the Pacific Party, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Worker’s Party. Apparently in Idaho there was even a write-in candidate named “pro-life” invented and registered as a candidate, even though it’s not a real person, and it got a few votes.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm
  • Stacey L says:

    So basically, at the beginning when trying to select a nominee for the party, Americans count up delegates in a series of statewide primaries and caucuses. The magic number for nomination differs between the republicans and democrats. Technically, though, there is no law stating that a delegate must vote for the candidate for which they have been assigned. So, technically, a party in the states can still vote against the people’s will (Hence the Hillary Clinton speculation), although in practice, there would be an uproar. In Canada, the party appoints the possible future leader without imput from voters. Then, on election night, you must win 270 electoral votes to become president elect. Each state has an allotment, and it is a winner take all system . Technically in both countries you can win an election without winning popular vote. In Canada too, the election is based on the number of seats won in Parliament; the party that gets the most seats gets to appoint the prime minister …in the states the vote for president, house representatives and senators are separate. It is also a more expensive and drawn out election in the states, which can be good or bad depending on your view (I happen to enjoy the excitement). I am a citizen of both countries, and have participated in both elections…so, yes, two thumbs down for me?!

    March 19, 2013 at 2:05 am
  • Joe in texas says:

    In America you vote for your congressman, senator, and President separately. You can vote for a congressman from one party and vote for a President of the other party. In America the President is elected directly by the people. Also in America senators are elected, rather than appointed as they are in Canada. Canada is a parlimentary democracy modeled on Great Britain. The United States is a Republic.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:05 am
  • Willamet says:

    Well in a Parliamentary system the members in the parliament selects the Prime Minster. In a Presidential system the major difference is that the voters elect the President directly. Now when I say directly it’s slightly more complicated with the electoral college but in a general sense, it is the people of America that choses the President. Another big difference is that in a Parliamentary system it’s a lot easier to get rid of a Prime Minister and the Prime Minister must report to the Parliament frequently where as the President usually addresses Congress (America’s version of the Parliament) during the State of the Union address which only happens once a year. Oh another major difference with a Parliamentary system is that they have a better chance of electing third party candidates. That’s why Canada’s been able to elect a greater number of New Democrats. In the US, we will never have a strong third party presence until the two-party system is abolished. This will probably never happen because if there’s one thing the Republicans and Democrats agree on, it’s for their parties to be the only viable choice in any election.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:21 pm
  • shawn614 says:

    They don’t both Canadian and American elections are full of lies to get votes. I am Canadaian also and yeah i have listened to both the us debates and the canadian run as well and they are both the same other than americans make it into a spectacle event

    March 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm
  • Steven K says:

    Canadian elections dont get anything accomplished. We have so many political partys, we always haev a minority government so nothing gets accomplished in the house. Americans like to make it a celebrity gong show for 2 years before the election.

    March 19, 2013 at 11:11 pm
  • jason b says:

    Canadians vote for Politicians – Americans vote for celebrities. Brittney Spears or Paris Hilton could be the President if they ran for it.

    March 20, 2013 at 3:48 am

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