As the campaign for the Alternative Vote referendum draws to a close, we would like to remind readers of British Politics and Policy at LSE , that this blog has had unrivalled coverage of the campaign, and comments from dozens of experts, from all angles and points of view for nearly a year. Our most popular posts on this topic to date have been:
- Every key ‘Westminster model’ country now has a hung Parliament, following Australia’s ‘dead heat’ election
- Patrick Dunleavy reviews the lessons for the UK and for the UK’s May 2011 referendum on changing to AV voting on the Australian pattern. (over 9,600 views)
- Is Alternative Vote a better voting system? It depends…
- Rafael Hortala-Vallve argues that voters and politicians both need to take a long-term view of their decisions to back or oppose reform. Each system has its own problems and limitations. (nearly 4,000 views)
- Australian state elections show that if British voters adopt the Alternative Vote in the forthcoming referendum, it will typically change party outcomes only a little, but will have positive effects for the standing of MPs
- Antony Green explores the lessons from his country’s experience for how AV might operate in the UK, and demonstrates that we need to look at state-level elections there to find the most compelling parallels. (1,900 views)
- Suppose UK voters accept the Alternative Vote in the May referendum… but then don’t use AV to signal multiple party preferences?
- The Alternative Vote is not the answer to the problems of our current electoral system: it is confusing, does not increase proportionality and promotes centrist politics
- Monica Threlfall writes that we should not rush to adopt the Alternative Vote system. (1,700 views)
We have also selected the most important articles on the campaigns, both for and against AV, balanced appraisals of how the systems will work, tactical voting and what lessons we can learn from elsewhere. These articles give commentators everything that they need to know about the referendum choice.
- The Alternative Vote is a worthwhile reform that will make a big difference in improving the democracy and accountability of British politics
- Katie Ghose from the ‘YES to Fairer Votes’campaign explains why their campaign is seizing this unprecedented chance for a change that will greatly improve how the Westminster Parliament responds to all its citizens.
- Unfair, expensive and a politicians’ fix – why British voters should reject the Alternative Vote
- Matthew Elliott from the ‘NO to AV’ campaignoutlines their case in favour of the UK staying with the present First Past the Post voting system.
Pro AV views
- A disgraceful referendum campaign has obscured the real case for AV
- Robin Archer finds that the vehemence of the debate has thrown a smokescreen over the real case for AV, that it is actually a mature and thoughtful compromise.
- AV elections are relatively uncomplicated and don’t need counting machines, but the electronic voting debate raises questions of how much we value electoral accuracy
- James Heather reflects on both sides of the campaign and the alleged need for electronic counts under AV.
- In 2005 not a single MP was returned with active majority support amongst their local citizens. The UK’s ‘First Past the Post’ voting system no longer works – it is the worst of both worlds
- Why all MPs should support reforming the electoral system. It is a key step in restoring their own legitimacy with the public
- Patrick Dunleavy argues that, whatever your party, there is now an overwhelming public interest case for adopting the Alternative Vote.
Anti AV views
- We should stay with the first past the post voting system: it maintains the link between voter and elected MP, while AV makes it much less clear
- Grégoire Webber takes an in-depth look at how AV works and finds that it does not remove the problem of a party (or coalition) having a majority in parliament, with a minority of the national vote, and that first-past-the-post provides a more direct link between voters and who they elect.
- The number of safe seats in Britain has been overestimated and an analysis of the facts strikes right at the very heart of the campaign for electoral reform
- Fabian Richter argues that only fifteen per cent of the population live in safe seats and this number has been in steady decline in recent years. This argument calls into question some of the underlying assumptions of the campaign for electoral reform and casts new light on the efficiency of the First Part the Post model.
Seat Predictions under AV
- AV will not change the face of parliament but may change the way that we think about politics
- Alan Renwick examines how the AV system would affect the national picture.
- If the Alternative Vote had been in use at the 2010 general election, the Liberal Democrats would have won 32 more seats, and a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition would also have had a Commons majority
- How much of a change would the Alternative Vote really be? –
- Anthony Wellsreads the runes on what voters think of the change at present and who would benefit if the Alternative Vote survives its key test.
- Supporters of the Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP should vote Yes to AV. For the Conservatives and Labour – the balance of advantage is much less clear
- Lewis Baston finds that for some parties rational self-interest is clear: supporters of the Liberal Democrats, Greens and UK Independence Party should vote Yes on AV. For others –the Conservatives and Labour – the balance of advantage is much less clear, and may differ between different parts of the party.
- A vote for AV may lead to fewer safe seats but whether this would make MPs work harder is still up for debate
- Alan Renwick casts doubt on four of the contentions from the ‘Yes’ campaign about how a vote for or against changing to the Alternative Vote would affect the character of British political life.
- The Alternative Vote will elect candidates with the broadest support of voters
- Alan Renwick looks at how the AV electoral system may affect election results at both the local level, and whether this electoral change will do away with ‘one person, one vote’.
- Why AV does not necessarily produce more coalition governments. Nor does it help small parties to win more seats. –
- Patrick Dunleavy finds that introducing AV will strengthen the ability of strong winning parties to form majority governments, and it will prevent parties with no clear votes lead from being gifted with ‘fake’ majorities.
- Tactical voting will still occur under the Alternative Vote, but much less so than under First Past the Post
- · Rafael Hortala-Vallve makes clear that AV will probably cut the incidence of tactical voting, but cannot get rid of it altogether.
- Tactical voting can still occur under the Alternative Vote, and it may lead to unexpected outcomes
- Roger Mortimore demonstrates that new forms of tactical voting could open up under AV.
Lessons from Australia and elsewhere
- Some Australian state elections using the Alternative Vote show that voters are casting fewer second preferences, or even none at all. Would the same happen in the UK?
- The leading Australian expert Antony Green explores whether or not voters will ‘plump’ for their top candidate under AV in the UK.
- STV in Scotland shows us that voters can adapt to preferential voting systems – but political parties may take longer to fully grasp the new system
- Alistair Clark looks at what the Scottish change to STV in 2007 can teach us about what may happen if the ‘Yes’ campaign is successful.