Posted by: secretperson | April 20, 2010

Electoral Reform – the Big Electoral Issue

It wasn’t of course until Nice Nick won a debate. Everyone heard about how he’d won a debate, and all the people who thought the Lib Dems could never win saw the polls and thought they might be worth a vote anyway. If they’d been keen Lib Dems they’d also have been keen students of the electoral system and realise that even with the biggest vote, they’ll almost certainly remain the third party in seats.

But the boost, should it continue, looks likely to make the outcome a hung parliament, in which the LDs will hold the Kingmaker role. It is also likely that the make up of seats will be noticeably different from the break down of votes. Last election it might have narrowed Labour’s majority, this time round it could be completely topsy turvy with Labour third in votes and first in seats, and vice versa for the LDs.

So, the current system exposed as dodgy, and a fight between the Tories and Labour to woo the Lib Dems into a coalition. And what’s the one thing Lib Dems want more than any other? Electoral reform.

I sincerely hope that the economy will be every parties number one priority, but since noone has truly comprehended the scale of that issue, and decisions are likely to be forced by circumstances as much as by political wranglings, it looks like it’ll be electoral reform dominating the political scene for the coming years.

Gordon Brown, now he looks like losing, has proposed a referendum on Alternative Vote (AV). Even Labour’s own review, ignored in the wake of their overwhelming 1997 victory recommended the adjusted AV+. I suspect Gordon has chosen the most likely to give Labour a victory, and I hope if we are forced to accept a Lib-Lab coalition that the Libs don’t sell themselves short by accepting this even less proportional nonsense. We mustn’t have reform for reforms sake.

I suspect the Lib Dems would like multi-member Single Transferable Vote (STV), which is the most proportional system. Its quite possible as well the system under which they would perform best.

The Tories, despite it currently disadvantaging them are heavily committed to First Past the Post (FPTP). But would they sacrifice it in order to form a coalition with the LDs and keep Labour out? That depends very much on what system is on offer, I suppose.

Anyway, I shall make a prediction that this could be the key issue of the next few years. And I shall hope that it does not distract from any more pressing issues (by which I mean debt). And I shall go away and get reading on the various systems to bring you my thoughts as necessary.

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