rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Unlike Andrew Rawnsley (and quite a few of my friends) my tolerance for endless discussion of different voting systems is pretty low. I'm also not that keen on discussing hypotheticals rather than actual situations. I strongly feel that voting No in May because Alternative Vote isn't some other preferred alternative to First Past The Post, is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Twitter's rubbish for discussion, so this is partly an attempt to sensibly expand on my recent exchange with @planetxanna about "why does no-one like AV?". My long answer is:

1. Most people don't think much about electoral systems and therefore neither like or dislike AV.

2. Of those that do think about voting systems, those who really prefer FPTP don't like AV at all. Those who want to get rid of FPTP electoral reform tend to favour systems that go even further than AV and deliver rather more proportionality. AV is a compromise1: it addresses some of the concerns of FPTP supporters: a clear winner, one MP per constituency, keeping the small fringe parties out of power. It addresses some of the concerns of electoral-reform supporters, in particular allowing voters to express preferences honestly.

1 Possibly even a miserable little one.

I like AV, and here are the two main reasons why:

1. The voter can be honest about what they want, rather than tactically voting based on guessing what everyone else in their constituency will do. Maybe for some people only one party will do, but most people have a second and third preference. Existing campaigning implicitly acknowledges this, whenever there's an effort to squeeze the third-party vote. "It's a Two-Horse Race" only works if people have more than one preference. AV lets people make their preferences explicit.

2. The 50% threshold will force candidates to appeal outside their core party vote, wherever a constituency isn't either solidly one-party or divided roughly evenly between two parties. At the moment only a third of MPs were chosen by more than 50% of the people who voted (and that's not addressing turnout issues). The current system encourages negative campaigning, especially in marginal seats and wherever more than two parties are in serious contention. "Vote for A to keep B out" is a depressingly common message. Under AV, there's far more incentive to campaign positively and to avoid pissing off supporters of your opponents with slurs, innuendo and insults.

I think these are desirable changes, and that's why I'm voting Yes in May.

Date: 2011-02-21 09:24 (UTC)
bens_dad: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bens_dad
I don't like the idea of party lists.

I haven't lived under the Scottish system (though I might have voted under it) with first and second class MPs representing the same people through different sized constituencies, but it seems like a good real-world system to me. I guess that might have party lists somewhere in the details, though there might be a way to use the votes cast to pick which representative of the "extra" party gets in.

I ought to explore open primaries further. The idea that only those who belong to the winning party get to choose the representative seems bad, but opening it up to the whole electorate risks a whole new level of tactical voting: I could vote for the fascist standing for the right to be the Conservative candidate to ensure that the tories don't defeat the libdems, which seems to have very dangerous potential.

I'm much more interested in something more radical such as approval voting which lets me express what really matters to me - which of the candidates would I find acceptable ?

However I realized during (not after) the last general election that I need to figure out something much more fundamental before I'm really ready to choose a voting system. My vote in a general election is used to do two different things: it is explicitly picking my representative in Parliament and implicitly selecting a Government. Tying those different functions together is a big problem for me, but so is the obvious solution - presidential government.

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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

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