Category Archives: Split Vote avoidance

If you were a Trot, what would you do?

The Labour Party is going through another of those periods, not so much of navel gazing, but more of vivisection. The latest episode includes accusations of entryism by that old bogey group, “the Trots”.

Previously the Labour party has gone through internecine strife and expulsions to purge the party of any non-mainstream thinking and of the aggression with which fringes have often pursued their agenda.

But this is inevitable. If you are a Trotskyist in Britain and you wanted to get into power, what else would you do? Continue reading

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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

Vote Swapping

There was an article on the BBC Website last week (23 April 2015 : Election 2015: Does ‘vote swapping’ work?) discussing the idea of vote swapping.

In vote swapping two people in different constituencies agree to trade votes in the hope that they can both have more influence on who forms the government.

Even though I intensely dislike the effect of our current First Past the Post¹ voting system, I feel uneasy about mechanisms such as these which “buck the system”. Continue reading

Local Government Reform

In the first article of the ‘Merger, He Wrote’ series, Steve Brooks director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru reflects on the Welsh Government’s new white paper on local democracy.

So many of the issues he identifies could be improved by the introduction of STV. Continue reading

Achieving Political Fission

Ian Birrell in the Guardian (Monday 27th September 2014) ponders whether a Conservative split may be the catharsis the party needs, concluding:

Yet what really binds the many decent and tolerant conservatives to those misanthropes filled with fear and rage against modernity?

Fear.

To be “conservative” implies an element of holding on to the past – because it has to be better than an uncertain future. Too often this can overpower any search for change for the better.

Two problems stoke this fear.

Continue reading

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

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