Thursday, 6 January 2011

Our voting system is irreparably broken.

Yet more evidence, if ever more were needed, that our current First Past The Post voting system is beyond repair, and that there is no logical reason for us to keep it. It shows why anything but a Yes vote for AV in May would be disastrous for democracy in our country.

The way we vote at the moment, putting a cross in the box of our preferred party, was designed for an age of two-party politics. If you have a choice between two opposing candidates, then the logical way to choose between them is a simple vote for one or the other, no ranking is needed. Whoever gets the most votes wins the seat, the party with the most seats wins the election, fairly straight forward, which is the reason FPTP prospered for so long.

But now, as shown by the ippr, the way we vote has changed, and continues to do so. We are less inclined than ever before to vote for the two main parties, and we are increasingly voting for smaller parties which better reflect our interests. As shown in the report, for those who care to read it, FPTP completely fails in the face of multi-party elections. It fails the test both by being hugely unrepresentative, and by failing to produce stable government.

The only argument that No2AV ever had was that we needed to keep FPTP or else we would end up with a succession of Coalition governments (which have been given rather a bad press, largely thanks to the spineless nature of the Lib Dems). This research however, shows that coalition governments are equally as likely under FPTP, because marginal seats (seats likely to change hands at an election) are decreasing rapidly. To form a majority government one party would need a landslide over its opponent.

Of the entire population of nearing 70 million people, it was the votes of only 460,000 people that decided the outcome. And the majority of votes cast in each seat were wasted. If you voted for a losing candidate, or your vote was excess to what the candidate needed to win, it was wasted. You may as well just stayed at home.

We now have a state of affairs where the majority of our MPs were voted into power without the support of at least 50% of the electorate. That can't be fair, and it isn't democratic.

AV lets people vote the way they really want to. No, it isn't proportional representation, but it does give voters the ability to show how they really feel. Never again will people not be able to vote for the candidate they want to because it would be a 'wasted vote' and for once, all the MPs in the House could legitimately say they had the support of at least 50% of their voters.

Yes to fairer votes. Yes to AV.

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