Alternative Voting

Discussion in 'Europe' started by tigerbob, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. tigerbob
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    tigerbob Increasingly jaded.

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    I often lament the fact that, in American politics, elections frequently cause a seismic shift to the left or the right. This in many cases results in the work done by the party that previously had power being picked apart by the incoming party. This wastes months of legislative time, wastes vast amounts of money and results in a new legislative agenda that will quite likely be unpicked the next time there is a lurch to left or right.

    Britain's voting system is similar to America's in as much as the person receiving 51% of the vote gets elected, while a person who gets 49% may get nothing. In Britain, this system is called first past the post (the post being 50%). In many central european countries, a system of Proportional Representation is used. While arguably giving a more balanced view of the electorate's wishes, this system does tend to lead to coalition governments.

    On May 5, Britain will have a referendum on whether to move to a new system - something that has been discussed and dismissed throughout my lifetime. Called A.V. (Alternative Voting), it's a form of P.R. A brief animated description is available here:

    BBC News - What is the alternative vote?

    More detail is available here:

    BBC News - Alternative vote

    Thoughts? Good thing? Bad thing? And how would this approach work in the U.S.? For example, it is unlikely that the current healthcare changes would have been passed, but arguably more likely that healthcare reform of some form or other would have been passed years ago.

    One thing is certain. If passed, British politics will be changed out of all recognition.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  2. California Girl
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    I listened to a 'mock election' on BBC Radio 5 a few days ago. This AV thing seems quite cumbersome to me. Apparently only three other countries in the world use it and, personally, I think Britain should either go fully to PR or keep its current FPTP system. AV seems a rather cowardly compromise, imo. But, since I don't vote, I'm only a curious outsider.
     
  3. tigerbob
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    tigerbob Increasingly jaded.

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    As am I, my dear, as am I.

    I'm still reading up on AV to try and find out exactly what has been watered down (from PR). Have you seen any good, balanced articles?
     
  4. tigerbob
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    tigerbob Increasingly jaded.

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    And do you know who the other countries are?
     
  5. California Girl
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    Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. :lol:
     
  6. tigerbob
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    Oh...my...God, Chandler Bing!
     
  7. California Girl
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    I've only managed to find either 'pro' or 'against' articles, nothing from a balanced view weighing the two alternatives. I suppose I could write one. :lol: I have no dog in the hunt in this but it's fascinating to watch. Personally, I'm actually kind of impressed with Britain's coalition government. It seems to me that, at the moment, they have a good plan - even though it is going to hurt the Brits for a few years.... better that than more of the same from labor.

    People need to do the math on pensions - the same issue as we have in the US. The overly bloated public sector may have been great to hide umemployment, but OMG, how the hell are the Brits gonna pay the pension bill in future? On that, I did read a really good article the other day... if I was planning to live permanently in the UK, I would be horrified.... and I am horrified by what Americans will face in years to come with our stupidly naive attitude towards the growth of the public sector.
     
  8. California Girl
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    I know! That's kind of what I thought when I read it. Britain following Papua New Guinea? That right there - that's some funny shit. :lol:
     
  9. UKcampaigner
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    Hi, I'm a Yes campaigner from the UK. That is, I'm in favor of the Alternative vote (AV).

    As Google has picked up your disucsion I'd thought I'd nipp up here and give you some facts.

    First off, the Uk now hass a wide variety of voting system starting since the 1970s and perhaps before we have added to our orignial first-past-the-post (FPTP) system the Single Transferable Vote (STV), the Multimember system, the Supplementary Vote and the List system of proportional representation.

    Most of these have been introduced by bodies other than the ones affected. And this is vital to the debate as "Turkey's don't vote to Christmas". It is very hard to get MPs (politicians) in our House of Commons to accept reform that might lead to them losing thier jobs :) Sure you've come across that in your country too.

    However, towards the end of the Last government the Labour party decided it might be in its best interest to pledge a referendum on AV (which isn't PR but might benefit the Labour party) in order to steel some votes off the Liberal Democrats (the 3rd party of UK politics).

    The result was a hung or balanced parliament in which the Lib Dems were able to use the Labour party's pledge to hold a referendum on AV to get the Conservatives to conceed a referendum on the Alternative Vote. The Conservatives (known as the Tories) were dead aginst proportional representation. The Lib Dems wer stongly in favor and this best that they could get in the circumstances.

    Thus the move is not a radical step but a "very British" evolution of the voting system.

    FACT: FPTP does NOT mean that the person who gets 50%+1 of the vote wins in either the UK or the US. It is the person who gets the most votes that wins with FPTP. In the UK we have MPs elected with 29% of the vote in their constituency, because we now have 3 major parties in a high proportion of the country and in many places 4.

    This causes crazy results.

    The Alternative vote asks voters to express numbered preferences. If a candidate gets 50% of the vote on the first count they are elected. If not, the bottom candidate is excluded and the election is "re-run" to see how people would have voted if that candidate had been excluded from the start. Andso it goes on - candiates excluded until someone get 50% of the vote in that round.

    It has been used in some elections in the United States since the 1970s or before. In the US it's called Instant Run-off voting.

    And one of its backers in the US is President Obama. And also Senator McCain.

    Here's a dramatic example of FPTP letting people down: What Was the effect of Ralph Nader's candidatency for the Presidency in 2000? He was left of Gore. He seems to have taken down the vote of Gore and lots of the swing states were very close indeed. ...

    That's the spolier effect - where I candidate closer to you than your rival takes down your vote and therefore lets your rival win. Be very clear: the biggest losers in that circumstance is the voters themselves.

    And its a danger for both the Democrats and the Republicans across the US. Hence its all party backing....

    It can help smaller parties too as it stops people cmaliming that a vote for the Greens, say, is a wasted vote.

    In the UK it is projected that it will give more seats to the Lib Dems but only if their vote holds up and still a lot less than their vote would get them under proportional representation.

    The Tories fear that a Yes vote will mean they can never again govern on their own again. (They think the divided left advantages them) Labour is torn between the hope of having overall control again and the awreness that the split vote has often harmed them. And they also hate the Lib dems for doing a deal with the Tories and want to destroy their dream.

    It would probably lead to less severe swings in government in UK due to our to strong 3rd party (polled 23% of the vote). In the US is less likely to have that effect.

    However, it does seem to have another significant affect in the US. It undermines big money! Because a more successful strategy in elections is to be involved in the community picking up 2nd preferences than just throwing money advertising to your natural allies in the hope they will turnout :) There's a brief mention iof this in Hope that helps.

    Imogen
     
  10. California Girl
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    We weren't looking for a lecture from one of the dogs in the hunt. We were, as interested outsiders, looking for some non biased information about it.

    Personally, any country that wants to follow a system used by Papua New Guinea and Fiji is a laughing stock as far as I am concerned.
     

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