How does the Canadian federal election system work?
In the United States, the authority of the federal government is ultimately vested in the people. The federal system balances power between the National Government and the numerous co-equal States’ governments. Laws are formed by the citizenry’s popularly elected representatives in Congress (the lower House of Representatives and upper Senate), enforced by the elected President, and interpreted by the appointed Supreme Court. The American President in particular is elected by the Electoral College, which convenes every four years in December to elect the President. The American President requires an absolute majority of the Electoral College’s support (at 270 votes) to be elected. Within Congress, if the majority party does not receive a majority of the seats of both houses, then the Congress is divided, and bipartisan support is generally required to pass legislation.
In contrast to this system, in Canada, the authority of the federal government is ultimately vested in the Monarch of Canada, currently Queen Elizabeth II of Windsor. The federal system balances power between the National Government, the ten provinces, and the three territories. Queen Elizabeth II has been represented by the Governor-General of Canada Julie Payette since 2017. Laws are formed by the citizenry’s representatives in Parliament (the popularly elected lower House of Commons and appointed upper Senate), entered into force with the Queen’s assent, enforced by the elected Prime Minister, and interpreted by the appointed Supreme Court. The Canadian Prime Minister in particular is elected by the House of Commons, and is generally the leader of the majority party of the House. The Prime Minister requires a majority party of the House’s support (at 170 seats) to be elected. If the majority party does not receive a majority of the seats, but a simple plurality, then the government is divided, and a multi-party coalition is required for the parliament to confidently pass a legislative agenda. The Prime Minister with his Cabinet form the executive administration of Canada.
In Canada, there are six primary political parties. In order of popular support, they are: The Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois, the Green Party, and the People’s Party. Political parties play a large role in Canadian elections; swipe to see more about each party.