PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA

Tel +613 9589 1802

Tel +61429176725

18 Anita Street

BEAUMARIS VIC 3193

 

info@prsa.org.au

www.prsa.org.au

2011-05-10

 

The failed May 2011 UK referendum was about replacing plurality voting with

preferential voting, not STV (quota-preferential proportional representation)

 

Click on a blue hyperlink of interest.

 

 

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CONSERVATIVES: The Conservative Party policy on electoral reform on its website promises at most a reduction of the UK's major malapportionment between electorate enrolments. Scotland's Western Isles constituency has an enrolment of just over 22,000 electors, whereas London's Kingston & Surbiton has an enrolment of just over 81,000. Major malapportionment was a problem resolved, at a federal level, in Australia in the 1970s, except for the continuing Constitutional impediments imposed by Section 24, which compartmentalizes representation by States, so that, for example, no original State can have fewer than 5 MHRs. See Conservative Action for Electoral Reform.

 

Now Mr Cameron is Prime Minister, Liberal-Democrats have persuaded the Coalition Government to hold the above referendum, even though the Conservative Party's policy is for no change from plurality voting (first-past-the-post) despite its major weaknesses. The referendum included a requirement for much more equal enrolments, and the Conservative Party supported that aspect of electoral reform.

 

 

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LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: The party's website reveals - once its search facility is used - that the party's 2008 Conference backed proposals including ďintroducing Single Transferable Vote for all elections to the upper and lower houses of Parliament.

 

 

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CONSERVATIVE-LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COALITION GOVERNMENT: See the Liberal Democrats' website at Political Reform for the Coalition Government's agreement on policy for electoral changes for both houses of the parliament. See also the explanation of referendum arrangements by the UK Electoral Commission. The referendum is governed by the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act 2011. The optional preferential voting system (as NSW uses) offered in the referendum is called the Alternative Vote.

 

The UKís Electoral Reform Society would prefer STV, but sensibly supports the Alternative Vote over the present first-past-the-post system. The Proportional Representation Society of Australia supports the replacement of first-past-the-post voting with preferential voting as it is fairer, and it introduces the concept of preferential voting, which is essential for a quota-preferential system of proportional representation (STV) rather than a party list system like MMP. The PRSA notes that New Zealandís lack of familiarity with preferential voting sadly led to its adopting the woeful MMP system instead of STV. Dissatisfaction with MMP might lead to its abandonment at an NZ referendum in 2011.

 

 

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LABOUR: At earlier elections during its term the UK's Labour Government under Tony Blair promised a referendum on the voting system, but it failed to eventuate. It set up the former Jenkins Commission, which invented an Alternative Vote Plus system it recommended. That is like Australia's single-member electorate preferential system, but cosmetically overlaid with an open PR party list system, which is inherently, like all party list systems, indirect. A Labour peer, Professor Lord Winston, is prominently opposing the Alternative Vote system.

 

Step 41 of the 50 Steps to a Fairer Future for All in Labour's Manifesto was to hold a referendum on "moving to the Alternative Vote", which is the voting system that has been used for Australia's House of Representatives since 1919. All that Gordon Brown stated about that on the Labour website, was "A fairer voting system is essential and I believe that you, the British people, should be able to decide in a referendum what the system should be." That statement means no more than a choice between the status quo and the Alternative Vote. It is a concern that in its use of the word "referendum" Labour means just a non-binding plebiscite.

 

 

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AUSTRALIAN EFFORTS: Australia's Democrats and Greens have each sought quota-preferential PR (STV) for the House of Representatives. The Democrats' official balloted policy, for Lower House STV, as in Senator David Vigor's Bill, and promoted slightly by former Senators Janet Powell and John Coulter, eventually succumbed, under former Senator Meg Lees's leadership, to advocating instead the different Alternative Vote Plus, whose party list component might not even comply with the direct election required by Section 24 of the Constitution.

 

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