Glossary


TermDefinition
Citizens’ AssemblyAn independent assembly of randomly selected individuals with a mandate to examine an issue over an extended period of time and make a recommendation to the Legislative Assembly.

The B.C. Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform was mandated in 2004 to look at how votes cast in provincial elections translate into seats in the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly’s final report was submitted in December 2004, and the recommended BC-STV voting system was put to provincial referendum in 2005 and again in 2009.

The Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform was given a similar mandate in 2006. Its final report was submitted in May 2007, and its recommended MMP system was put to provincial referendum in October 2007.
Closed List Proportional Representation (Closed List PR)A form of List PR in which voters vote for a political party and the seats that party receives are filled based on a list prepared by the political party at the start of the election – for example, if the party receives 5 seats, then the first 5 candidates on the party list are elected. See List PR.
Coalition governmentTwo or more political parties that form government by formally sharing power in the Legislative Assembly. Usually, the cabinet ministers will be drawn from all coalition parties.
Electoral districtA geographic area that elects one or more members of the Legislative Assembly. Sometimes referred to as a “constituency” or “riding”.
Electoral district seatsSeats that are won by candidates or filled by candidates of political parties on the basis of the results of the vote in an electoral district.
First Past the Post (FPTP)British Columbia’s current voting system. Also called Single Member Plurality (SMP). See First Past the Post.
Governing partyA political party whose leader is called upon by the Lieutenant Governor to form a government because the party can maintain the confidence of the Legislative Assembly in order to govern.
Legislative AssemblyThe lawmaking body of British Columbia, consisting of all the elected Members.
LegislatureThe Legislative Assembly as well as the Lieutenant Governor, who represents the Crown in British Columbia.
Lieutenant GovernorThe representative of the Queen in British Columbia who carries out constitutional, vice-regal and ceremonial duties on behalf of the Crown. The Lieutenant Governor selects the Premier, summons and prorogues the Legislature, and gives Royal Assent to bills.
List Proportional Representation (List PR)A proportional voting system. See List PR.
List seatsSeats that are filled by candidates of political parties in proportion to the percentage of the vote the party receives. Seats are filled based on lists of candidates prepared by parties.
Majority governmentA single governing party or a formal coalition of like-minded parties holds more than half of the seats in the Legislative Assembly.
Minority governmentThe governing political party holds fewer than half of the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly.
Mixed voting systemVoting system in which both First Past the Post and List PR are used to allocate seats in the Legislative Assembly. Voters have a separate vote under each method.

MMP and MMM are examples of mixed voting systems.
Mixed Member Majoritarian (MMM)A semi-proportional voting system. Also referred to as Parallel voting system. See MMM.
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)A proportional voting system. See MMP.
Open List Proportional Representation (Open List PR)A form of List PR in which voters have the option of voting for a candidate from a list prepared by a political party. Voters also may have the option of simply endorsing the party’s list as presented. The political party receives a share of seats equal to the percentage of the vote received by all of the candidates for the party. The party’s seats are filled in the order of the number of votes each candidate received – for example, if the party receives 5 seats, then the 5 candidates from that party who got the most votes are elected.
ParallelA semi-proportional voting system. Also referred to as Mixed Member Majoritarian voting system. See MMM.
Plurality voting systemsVoting systems in which the winning candidate or political party is the one that has obtained more votes than any other candidate or political party, even if it is not more than 50% of the total votes cast in an electoral district. First Past the Post is an example of a plurality voting system.
ProportionalityIn regard to voting systems, a measure of how closely a political party’s share of the votes matches the share of seats in the Legislative Assembly.
Proportional voting systemA voting system that allocates seats in the Legislative Assembly in proportion to the percentage of the votes cast for political parties. In a perfectly proportional system, a political party would receive, for example, 30 per cent of the seats if it won 30 per cent of the votes cast.
QuotaThe minimum number of votes that a candidate must receive in order to be elected under the STV voting system. The quota is determined by a formula based on the number of seats in the electoral district and the total number of valid votes cast.
Semi-proportional voting systemA voting system that allocates seats in the Legislative Assembly relatively, but not closely, in proportion to the percentage of the votes cast for political parties. Mixed Member Majoritarian or Parallel is an example of a semi-proportional voting system.
Single Member PluralitySee "First Past the Post".
Single Transferable Vote (STV)A preferential voting system. See STV.
ThresholdThe minimum percentage of votes that a political party must receive in order to be eligible for to win a seat under some proportional systems – for example a party list seat under List PR or MMP.
Voting systemA system for electing members to a legislative body, including the rules that govern how ballots are marked and counted, and how votes are turned into seats.