STV as a tug-of-war

In a previous post having another go at the horse race analogy used by supporters of FPTP (First Past The Post) electoral systems, I tried to compare AV (The Alternative Vote) to a tug-of-war:

Initially the die-hard supporters of the two established foes (usually Labour and the Conservatives) take an end each. As they start pulling they scream out promises and threats to bystanders to try to persuade

  • their stay-at-home supporters to pick up their end of the rope and pull
  • supporters of minority parties to lend their weight (if only to stop the other side winning)
  • the apathetic to look at how things are going and if they don’t like what they see to also lend their weight.

As all of this happens you may find a few people changing ends, but the result is determined by who has the greatest weight of support and can pull themselves over the line at the close of polls.

Electoral Tug-of-War

Electoral Tug-of-War as an AV analogy

I also suggested that STV (the Single Transferable Vote – usually in multi-member constituencies) might be a multi-dimensional version of this tug-of-war with each candidate having a rope. I have since been trying to visualise this! Continue reading

Myth Busting: The winner should win (take 2: The Tug-of-War)

Julian Ware-Lane in his blog reflecting on the Conservatives reaction to losing control makes the point:

The Conservatives, it could be argued, won in the Borough [with 30.29%]. I think a more accurate telling of the story is to state that with 69.71% voting for other parties it was quite a rejection.

To be fair to them this would be consistent with their approach to AV. Remember their comparison to a horse race and the slogan “the winner should win“. It is written into their political DNA which means that a lot of the behaviour that he complains about is actually instinctive rather than rational.

The problem with their analogy is that they rig the race. Continue reading

Is Representative Democracy failing us?

Matthew Flinders on Democratic Audit (2 July 2014) ponders What is the problem with democracy?

Could it be that we need to give those politicians we elect just a little more leeway and ‘space’ in order to allow them to focus on delivering their promises? Could it be that politicians have become too sensitive to the immediate demands of the loudest sectional groups or the latest focus group or what’s trending on twitter?

I think we also need to get our minds back round what we mean by a “representative democracy” and whether it is still working (at least sufficiently for us to want to continue with it). Continue reading

Misleading Name for a Misleading System

“First Past the Post” is a lousy misleading name for a lousy misleading system. Under “first past the post” it is very rare for anyone to reach the “winning post”, so it should be better called something like “Best Failure” or “Least Worst Failure”.

Ironically, Continue reading

UKIP’s and the Conservative’s Pickle

It is interesting that the Conservatives are branding themselves as the “party that will give the people a choice” (through an in/out referendum) and UKIP are also promising to “give the country back to the people”. Yet both are worried about splitting the vote at the next general election. Hence the calls for pacts or coupon elections from worried conservatives; hence UKIP playing hard-ball. This is disingenuous. Continue reading

A representative parliament or one that “looks like us”

One of the things highlighted by the formation of the current Coalition Government is that governments are formed by agreement of the Commons and not by agreement of the electorate.

My previous post highlighted that we do not vote for governments but for representatives – the government is indirectly elected through achieving a majority on a vote of confidence or a Queen’s Speech. I concluded:

if we are to live under a Parliamentary indirect system of democracy, that system must ensure that the elected representatives (as a Parliament) are more representative of the people who consent to be governed by them. Then if we accept that Parliament is representative, we should consent to being governed by them.

Today Democratic Audit UK carries a guest posting by Labour MP for Slough, Fiona Mactaggart. (British democracy is made stronger by greater diversity, though we still have much further to go) In making her case she misses a major element of the diversity that we need to ensure that those “who elect” our governments (our MPs) are truly representative. Continue reading

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