The Voting System Referendum – a Discussion

With Alternative Vote (AV) voting, the candidate with the lowest vote could technically  win the election. So what is all the fuss about? The first past the post system has been tried and tested for decades and in the bipolar Labour-Conservative politics of the 20th Century, it has by and large produced governments and stability. However, with the rise of liberalism, since the 70’s, there has been an increasing clamour for AV from smaller parties such as Libera in order to increase their share of the vote and allow for representatives to be selected. The ‘one person one vote lobby’ has mounted a strong campaign against AV. In a recent coalition communication, they maintained that the referendum would cost a staggering £91 million to run, and if the system switched to AV, there would be an additional £130 million for electronic counting machines, and £26 milllion on just explaining the new system and how it worked. Globally, the AV system is only used in three countries in the  world – Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Australia. It is not popular in these countries claims the ‘no’ campaigners saying it is fundamentally unfair. In first past the post, whoever gets the most votes is the winner. But in the AV, if a candidate gets 50% or more of the vote there is no further counting as he/she has won. But if no-one gets 50%, there is a least one more round on the second count, the one with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and his/her No 2 preferences a spread across the candidates. If a ballot paper does not show a No2 it is no longer used, so it is important in this system to use up all your choices when voting. The candidate who shows the lowest is again eliminated. This continues until the 50% marker is reached. In each case, the transfer votes and moved to whichever candidates are showing. A large second preference vote for the lowest showing first preference candidate will then put him/her up the pecking order. Fundamentally, AV will encourage the growth of smaller parties, and while this may seem a positive in adding to political diversity and choice, one has to consider that parties such as the BNP can creep up on the political system and be more strongly represented. AV, its critics argue,  would also create more hung parliaments and positioned between labour and the Conservatives, the Lib-Dems could become the deciding power broker in a coalition-styled government. This syystem encourages behind the scenes wheeling and dealing between the parties, and one has to ask the question, is this the sort of election system we want to run the Westminster parliament with perhaps less openness and transparency? Lib-Dem Leader Nick Clegg may be pushing to get the AV system adopted for his own party’s benefit some argue, but we have to ask the 64,000 dollar question, why? Is it about political empire-building, or is his political ideology so important that he has to chance political instability and possible government inertia to get his way. Or does the process of historic change beckon us all? Do we need a separate system for each region of the UK. And a tailored regional referendum? It seems the idea of a Britain of nations has gone out of the window and if AV is voted on by the majority, we wil be run by a more diverse and volatile parliament. There is a danger that the regions of Scotland wales and Northern Ireland do not understand the relvance of the AV system, and get confused in the polling station. The face of British politics could be changed overnight after an AV Westminer election. But you pays your money and you takes your choice! I don’t think spoiling your referendum voting slip is an option, it is a cop out. There are only hours left to sort this out. Still confused????   I know which way I am voting, do you?]]>