Parliamentary or Presidential?

With @TheresaMay2016‘s coronation we need an early General Election. The Tories now have no mandate. Britain deserves better than this.

The implication of this would seem to be that Tim Farron believes in a Presidential system. Which is strange given that the last time the Liberals were in Government they relied on a parliamentary majority to sustain them rather than a general election majority

Under presidential systems elections get boiled down to a binary choice – which probably means no look in for the Liberals.

Parliament is just as representative today as it was yesterday; problem (1) is
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Conservatives and Exhaustive Transferable Voting

Tory MPs are going through a laborious process to whittle five candidates for leadership down to two – who the membership will then vote on.

They are doing it by “exhaustive balloting”. Today we have a poll of five, after which the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, before a poll of four on Thursday another elimination and then a poll of three next Tuesday.

This opens up scope for all sorts of machinations and sub-optimal results. Is there a quicker and possibly cleaner way? Continue reading

First Past the Post and Referenda

The EU Remain/Leave Referendum campaign has been very quiet in my area – no leaflets through my door apart from a very early Leave rag (possibly not official) and so far only five posters in windows on my routes into town (3 leave, 2 remain).

So I am wondering why? Continue reading

Is AMS truly democratic?

Democratic Audit are carrying out an audit of democracy and ask:

What does democracy require for an electoral system?

  • It should accurately translate parties’ votes into seats in the legislature (e.g. Parliament)
  • In a way that is recognized as legitimate by most citizen (ideally almost all of them).
  • No substantial part of the population should regard the result as illegitimate, nor suffer a consistent bias of the system ‘working against them’.
  • If possible, the system should have beneficial effects for the good governance of the country.
  • If possible, the voting system should enhance the social representativeness of the legislature, and encourage high levels of voting across all types of citizens.

How democratic are the reformed electoral systems used in mayoral and devolved elections? Democratic Audit UK, 18 January 2016

It then applies these criteria to its audit of the AMS system used in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and London Assemblies.

I take issue with two of these criteria – which are fundamental to the examination of the Additional Member System (AMS). Continue reading

Candidate Priorities under List Systems

A BBC Article (Looking ahead to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections 4 January 2016) contains this revealing snippet about Scottish Labour:

Consider Kezia Dugdale, first up in the Hume programme. Right now, her Labour comrades are understandably expending energy in getting themselves as high up their party’s Holyrood regional lists as possible.

Ms Dugdale decided to reopen the lists, removing the special status accorded to sitting MSPs. In addition to those, there are one or two eager ex MPs who rather fancy an early return to elected politics.

But why on the list and not a first-past-the-post seat? Why seek regional election and not a constituency? Because, of course, Labour stands to win relatively few Holyrood constituencies if current opinion poll indications are borne out. And of course, they won just one seat at last May’s general election.

This says so much about why list and hybrid systems are inappropriate if you want candidates to focus on the electorate rather than their selectorate! Continue reading

Which house is most representative?

Representativeness of Parliament
The above graphic shows an interesting take on the “representativeness” of the two Houses of Parliament in the UK. (graphic: © Outside The Marginals) Continue reading

In Praise of Indirect Democracy

We like to think that we elect governments – and most parties encourage this view with national campaigning, leaders’ debates and an emphasis on party discipline.

But we actually elect representatives to form a Parliament. It is members of that Parliament that vote to support a government and they decide issues rather than us. In that respect our democracy is “indirect”.

We are being progressively encouraged to think that more “direct” democracy is “better”. Witness the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners and the push for directly elected mayors.

I think this is wrong and that, for reasons of coherence and accommodating diversity, indirect democracy has a lot going for it.

This is particularly so as we face a potentially complicated hung parliament. This means that we are unlikely to have a government with a clear parliamentary majority – we will not have “elected a government”. So it will be up to our MPs, as a Parliament, to decide who forms the executive. This requires them to act as parliamentarians not as party hacks wedded to a series of “red-line promises”, “manifesto pledges” and “policy millstones”.

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Trends in Not Voting

Julian Ware-Lane (a Labour General Election Candidate) has published on his blog some interesting numbers for changes in voting behaviour over the last 80 years. Graphically they are sobering for the two main parties and worrying for all of us.

Voting at UK General Elections

Voting at UK General Elections (percentages as percentage of registered electorate)

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