Tag Archives: multi-member constituencies

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

What makes an election system democratic?

How offended can you be before an election result is “not democratic”? Continue reading

Multi-seat Wards (English Election style)

Councils (in England – the Scots know better) have two main ways of electing their councillors (both using the dreaded “first past the post” method).:  “All-up elections” where every councillor is up for election, or “by thirds” where a third of the councillors are up for election each year – usually one councillor from each three-seat ward. Continue reading

Other benefits of STV

STV (Single Transferable Voting) is often promoted as a means to get a more representative result.  There are, however, other significant benefits:

  1. Voters can choose between different candidates of the same party; this breaks the power of the selection committees.
  2. “Split votes” are almost impossible, so a disgruntled candidate can appeal over the heads of their party direct to the electorate.  Protest votes also become irrelevant – you can vote for what you want.
  3. Mini “one party states” are unlikely, so parties and candidates do not get complacent, and at every election, there is something to fight for, so with a bit of luck the electorate actually gets engaged. Continue reading

Myth Busting: It’s too complicated

Often said of STV (The Single Transferable Vote).  The name is initially the hardest bit; but it says it all:

“I have a single vote and I can instruct the returning officer how to transfer it so as to best elect my choice of candidates.  I do this by putting a “1” against my first choice, a “2” against my second choice, a “3” against my third choice and so on until I am indifferent as to further preferences.”

For the voter it is as simple as that. Continue reading

Myth Busting: The Constituency Link

“The Constituency Link” is often claimed by opponents of reform to be a vital element of the operation of representative democracy.  By this they mean single member constituencies.

But how real is this link and to who does it matter?  I suspect that outside the politorarti it is far less sacrosanct than claimed. Continue reading

Myth Busting: The Israeli Example

Israel is often quoted as an example of the dangers of electoral reform.

In essence Israel is treated as a single constituency country and members are elected in strict proportion to the votes cast.  A consequence of this is that parties with very little support can get elected and have a possibly disproportionate impact on the government.  However, no one is suggesting this particular system for the UK – Proportional Representation is not a “single system”.

Continue reading