On Twitter: @JamesFirth and @s_r_o_c (post feed)

Got a tip? tip@sroc.eu



Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Why Alternative Vote (AV) makes for a fairer voting system

Extraopia is an imaginary country with three main political parties.

PORTISTS support a left-wing ideology.  They also believe Extraopia should join together with neighbouring Extraland to form a The United Extras, and also want to see major overhaul of the welfare state and social provisions.

CENTRISTS also believe in union with Extraland and in the need to overhaul the welfare state, although they disagree with the Portists on aspects of political ideology, instead preferring a smaller state.

EXTRAOPIA INDEPENDENCE believes in right-wing ideology.  They are against any union with Extraland and object to any reform of the welfare state.

By far the two biggest issues in modern politics in Extraopia are union with Extraland and whether the welfare system should be reformed.

At the last general election, the voting in every single one of the 100 constituencies was as follows:

EXTRAOPIA INDEPENDENCE PARTY
34%
CENTRIST PARTY
33%
PORTIST PARTY
33%

Who do you think should rule the country?

Under the first past the post election system used in UK general elections, there is only one possible outcome.  The EXTRAOPIA INDEPENDENCE PARTY would wipe the board, getting all 100 seats despite getting only 34% of the vote. 

More importantly, 66% of the country voted for a party that supports welfare reform and union with Extraland.

Luckily Extraopia uses the Alternative Vote system.  In the majority of cases, voters supporting the CENTRIST PARTY gave their second-choice vote to the PORTISTS because of the common ground on the two key issues, and vice-versa for the supporters of the PORTIST PARTY.

By the time the second-choice votes were counted, the results of the election were thus:

EXTRAOPIA INDEPENDENCE PARTY
34 seats
CENTRIST PARTY
33 seats
PORTIST PARTY
33 seats

The CENTRISTS and PORTISTS formed a coalition government, with a mandate to pursue social reform and union with Extraland - as supported by 66% of the electorate.

3 comments:

  1. To me the principle is great. But the principle of communism is also brilliant (equal wealth, equal obligations, equal say...) however it is not compatible with human kind.

    To me the huge risk is quagmire. Coalitions are relatively new in the UK so both sides are getting away with "fudging" the differences quite well, but the issues are severely complicated when you get many smaller parties. In that case a coalition is dictated to by a much smaller party who can push minority politics into the frame. Over frequent elections lead to disenfranchisement just the same as first past the post.

    I'm not sure what the solution is, but I don't think the options are as clear cut as either side would have us believe

    ReplyDelete
  2. I guess the question in the above example would be what is the lesser evil? Having a party win a landslide government despite winning only 34% of the vote and opposing majority public opinion on 2 key issues, or having a coalition take power that may, given the imperfections of most democracies, become locked-down in a quagmire of in-fighting...

    ReplyDelete
  3. The obnoxious woman on BBC breakfast this morning has pushed me closer to AV - very shallow of me to prefer personalities to issues.

    I would wholeheartedly support a system that returned us to voting on issues rather than people (one advantage of the referendum I suppose) and a system which discouraged career politicians who have never had a proper job

    ReplyDelete

Comments will be accepted so long as they're on-topic, do not include gratuitous language and do not include personal attacks or libellous assertions.

Comments are the views of the commentator and not necessarily the view of the blog owner.

Comments on newer posts are not normally pre-moderated and the blog owner cannot be held responsible for comments made by 3rd parties.

Requests for comment removal will be considered via the Contact section (above) or email to editorial@slightlyrightofcentre.com.