Newest Review: ... at least 50% of the total, then another level of voting is looked at. What they do now, is they eliminate the party with the lowest numb... more
My take on the referendum
PR vs 'first past the post'
Member Name: Vialdana
PR vs 'first past the post'
Advantages: A referendum gives everyone the chance to vote on how we move forward
Disadvantages: Too many people are being left in the dark about how the new system will really work
Following on from writing about this on my website I thought I'd also put this on here too. Most of the text is the same as on my own site, but as I wrote it I don't think that matters it's still my own opinions and words after all.
So on May 5th you get to go into your local polling station, and vote on whether or not you want the voting system to stay the same as it is now, or to change to the new system.
So what is the new system? And, how does it compare to the current one? What has amazed me is how few people seem to actually understand how the new system would work and why some people think it's fairer and others don't.
At the moment, when you vote, you put a single X in a box and that is your vote. All the votes are counted, generally speaking, the party with the most votes wins. It does occasionally pan out that we get a 'hung parliament' which is where the leading party doesn't have a big enough winning margin over the others to allow it to rule alone, and that's when a coalition government is formed - this is simply where two parties agree to work together to rule.
The new system won't work the same way. Instead of putting a single X in one box, you'll be able to put numbers in there instead to show your preferred choices in order. So, if you decide that your favourite party is the Green Party, you'd vote for them as your number 1 choice by putting a 1 in the box against their candidate. Then you decide that your second favourite is the Liberal Democrats, so you'd put a 2 in the box against them, and so on down the list choosing them in your preferred order.
At the end of the ballot, all the number 1 votes are counted in the normal way. At this point if the party with the most votes doesn't have at least 50% of the total, then another level of voting is looked at.
What they do now, is they eliminate the party with the lowest number of votes - let's assume for a moment that it's the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Ok, so all the voting slips with this party listed as number 1 on the list get re-looked at, and instead of looking at the number 1's, they look at the number 2's. The votes that WERE for this party now get divided up amongst the remaining candidates to increase how many votes they have, and then the list is looked at again. If one of the remaining parties now has 50% or more, then they win and are elected. If they still don't, then once again, the party with the lowest votes is knocked out (this time lets assume it's the Green Party who you voted for as your number 1).
So, this is the next round and the cards with the Green Party as number 1, are looked at again. And everyone whose vote is currently with the green party have their paper re-checked, and all the number 2's on the list are looked at, and the cards are divided up into the remaining parties again. So your vote would now be with the Liberal Democrats. Someone else, who'd voted for the Lib Dems as 1 and the Monster Raving Loony Party as 2 OR someone who'd already had their paper moved from the Monster Raving Loony Party to the Lib Dems, would have their THIRD place preference looked at instead as the Monster Raving Loony Party has already been knocked out of the game.
In this way, the votes are re-counted IF NECESSARY several times with the votes being re-counted until any one of the parties has AT LEAST 50% of the voting cards in their pile. At this point, they are elected as the party which will rule the country for the next few years.
So what happens to the parties that got knocked out? Well... the original 1 votes are what give them their seats in parliament. This means that in fact we could see coalition governments formed far more frequently, and that for many people who want one of the smaller parties to be in power they'd feel able to vote for them rather than feeling the need to use 'tactical voting' - Tactical voting is where someone opts to NOT vote for the party they really like, but instead to vote for one of the larger parties because they know that the party they really like doesn't stand a chance of winning enough votes.
Many people feel that this type of voting system would be fairer because it would mean that everyone's vote would count. Here's what I mean... In the current system if you really wanted to vote for the Green Party, but knew that overall they didn't really stand a chance in a general election, you might instead look at the big three and decide which of those parties you think is the best and cast your vote for them instead - perhaps deciding on voting for the Lib Dems. With this old system the Green Party would get 1 less vote overall. With the new system, you could vote Green as 1 and then Lib Dem as 2 so that IF the Green Party didn't get many votes and got knocked out of the race, your vote would be re-counted and would then be awarded to the Lib Dems, but everyone would still know that you REALLY wanted the Green Party in place and it would help them to be more visible and to have more seats in parliament.
Some people are against this new voting system. One of the main reasons they give as their reasons is that they feel it would mean that the votes for the smaller parties like Monster Raving Loony, UK Independence Party, British National Party, Green Party and others would get a bigger say in how the country is run because they would have more seats in parliament. Technically this is correct, but the way they describe it can be a little misleading making it seem like they get more say in the election which is untrue. Another thing they say is that it would produce 'weak' governments - but all this really means is that these governments would have a smaller majority, so in voting within parliament they would need more support from opposition parties to make changes.
I personally believe that the new system is fairer. I think it means that people can vote the way they REALLY feel inclined to vote, and that we will see that reflected in Parliament. It also means that we all get to list our preferences in order rather than just getting one chance. Within Parliament it may well mean that we'll get more coalition governments over the years, but to be honest I don't think this is a bad thing. I think it means that WE the people who ARE this country will be more fairly represented and we're more likely to get a government that has to work hard to make things right for US instead of for themselves. I know at the moment some people are thinking coalitions must be bad because this coalition is screwing with the finances of the country, but to be fair, whoever had got in they'd have needed to do something to try and sort the mess out I think. What I like best is that most of the parties would have seats in parliament rather than just the big ones doing so. This would mean that everyone in the UK would have some people there representing what they want. The leading party who is in power wouldn't be HUGE, and they wouldn't be able to make big changes without caring what other parties (and the people of the country generally) want, they'd need support from smaller parties to carry things through.
Summary: Everyone needs to share the information on how this works so that we ALL make an informed decision.