Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The main reason to vote Yes to the Alternative Vote today #Yes2AV

There have been lots of arguments bandied back and forth about the Alternative Vote versus First Past the Post in the last few months, some of which are good and sadly many of which have been pretty poor.

However there is one argument that for me at least is the overriding reason why I will be voting Yes later on today.

It allows people to vote for who they actually want to vote for.

I know there are some who will claim the current system allows you to do that but there are far too many cases where that is not true, at least not if you want to be able to make a difference to the final outcome. In far too many seats a vote for a candidate that has little chance at the moment of winning is effectively wasted. And worse than that is the fact that under those circumstances a voter can easily end up with an MP that they and many of their fellow constituents actively strongly dislike and disagree with but because all they have been able to do is put an X next to one candidate, they have not been able to express this view.

So in lots of cases, what people do under FPTP is to vote "tactically". In other words they vote for a candidate that is not really their first choice but has a good chance of winning in order to keep out a strongly disliked candidate elsewhere on the slate. FPTP already forces many who want to make a difference to the outcome to do an AV type ranking in their heads but then further complicates it by requiring the voter to then work out who of their most preferred candidates is most likely to win. At least with AV this will become unnecessary. Because a voter could then rank their candidates in order of preference they will no longer have to choose between voting with their heart and voting with their head. They can choose their most preferred candidate as their number 1 but still select other candidates in positions 2 and 3 in order that if their 1 drops out they still have a say. To my mind that is much more democratic than the current system.

There are other good reasons to vote Yes too today but the one above is the main reason I will be doing so.

1 comment:

martijn said...

Hear, hear. It is actually something where AV is better than PR. (In theory, in PR you just ought to vote for the party you want to be elected, as this will make their group in parliament bigger. In practise, it usually matters a lot which party is biggest so people end up voting tactically for a big not-so-bad party rather than for a small great one.

There must have been quite a few people who voted LibDem for this reason; people who live in Con-LibDem 2-way marginals (most of southern England). Billy Bragg, for instance, said he did.

I wish the LibDems used examples like this to show that AV is *not* a system they favour just because it will hand more power to the LibDems. (And they should have used the trump card that in the past the liberals favoured general suffrage when they knew this would cost them many seats.)