A surprising result from the Lib Dem Voice poll on whether we should back Alternative Vote over First Past the Post (assuming it was to be on offer). Apparently 51% (out of 345 votes overall) think that we should.
As I have blogged about before I want Single Transferable Vote. I was dubious about Alternative Vote Plus (AV+) as are a number of other Lib Dem bloggers (e.g. here and here) but at least that would be more closely proportional than FPTP. There's no such guarantee with AV. It may even end up being less proportional than FPTP. It can exagerate landslides if the second placed party is unpopular. It would have given Labour an even bigger majority in 1997 for example.
So why would LDV readers support it? Here are a few theories:
1) They think that it would be a "step in the right direction". AV does at least have the distinction of ensuring candidates get 50% of the vote in their seat after all the transfers are made. And it gets the electorate used to listing preferences. The reasoning would be that after this move, it would make campaigning for a further move to STV easier. I think this is completely wrong. The electorate would not stand for further changes after a change to AV for a very long time probably decades. It would actually set back the cause of those of us who want a proportional system.
2) Perhaps lots those who responded are not Lib Dems. This would make sense as I am sure LDV is much more widely read than just the party membership and there was no restriction on who could vote. It would be interesting to see what the results of a similar poll that was only open to party members (as LDV have the ability to do I think) would be.
3) Lots of Lib Dems favour a system that would likely work against the party's interests. Whilst I like to think that we Lib Dems are not as brazenly partisan as other parties but I very much doubt they would actively vote to make the situation any worse for us!
4) Perhaps not all respondents understood the distinction between AV, AV+, STV etc. It can get very confusing and sometimes politicians deliberately obfuscate by for example saying AV when they mean AV+.
Or maybe there are other reasons. What do you think?