Friday, April 1, 2011
The Alternative Vote is Wrong for Britain- The Politicizer
On May 5th the people of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will go to the polls for local elections and be asked whether they support undergoing the largest change to parliamentary elections in the history of the United Kingdom. If the referendum is passed Members of Parliament would no longer be elected under a first-past-the-post system but instead by a form of alternative voting that forces voters to rank all of the candidates on the ballot in order of their preference. If a voter’s first choice is eliminated then their vote is passed along to the next indicated preference still in the running. This continues until one candidate has at least 50% of the total vote. Proponents for this change argue that this will ensure that MPs have the support of the majority of their constituents as well as make the main parties to compete for fringe voters even the safest districts. Currently whichever candidate receives the most votes is elected.
The proposed move to the alternative vote is not the right medicine for the electoral issues in the United Kingdom. In reality, this referendum was the main price paid by the Conservatives to their partners in Government, the Liberal-Democrats, in exchange for their support. Ironically enough alternative voting is actually the black sheep of electoral reform proposals in that the Liberal-Democrats originally preferred a proportional representation system (similar to the one utilized for elections to the European Parliament) and the Lib-Dems are not actively campaigning in favor of the switch to AV. The Labour Party leadership has officially endorsed the AV system. However, over half of the Labour Members have signed onto the No to AV campaign in a show of defiance against what many consider ineffective reform and a political win for Liberal-Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The Conservatives are united against the alternative vote and have been aggressively pushing to keep the first-past-the-post system.
See the full piece here