Editorial — Primaries worth a look
Who will be our next premier? And who will be hurling questions across the floor as our opposition leader?
The answers won’t come from voters at the polls, but from card-carrying members of the B.C. Liberal and B.C. NDP parties. In the highly-contested leadership contests currently playing out, leaders are chosen by party members. With resignations by Liberal Gordon Campbell and NDP Carole James, both jobs are up for grabs.
Anyone can join a party to participate in the one-member, one-vote system. But not all citizens have an interest in politics and political parties. Many people just want to be served by a caring MLA and have a competent premier at the helm.
That calls into question our current political system in B.C. Looking south, it appears the U.S. primary voting system would bring a few more ounces of fairness to the whole process. Simply put, under such a system, all eligible voters would be able to vote for their candidate.
In the U.S., primary elections are used by a political party to nominate candidates for the next general election. Open primary elections are open to all registered voters, and voting is done through a secret ballot.
This would offer citizens a more complete voting system and improve democracy.
It could boost participation in the electoral process, engaging citizens in the political system and their wider communities — and ultimately increase voter turnout on election day.
Under the current system, the winning leadership candidate is likely the person who managed to collect the most new memberships or someone already entrenched in party circles.
A primary system would give the winning leadership candidate a clear mandate to lead the province — or B.C.’s official opposition, by putting more power in the hands of general voters and less in the hands of party elites.
That’s good for democracy.