Newsletter of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia
QN2005B June 2005 www.prsa.org.au
British Columbia Referendum: Over 57% Vote for ‘BC-STV’ - One 60% Hurdle Met
The Liberal Government of the province had initiated the process that led to the referendum in response to widespread criticism of and disaffection with the existing electoral system. The New Democratic Party had remained in majority government at the 1996 election after obtaining 39.5% support compared with 41.8% for the Liberals, but was virtually wiped out at the 2001 election, the Liberal Party winning 77 of the 79 electoral districts, after gaining 57.6% of the vote.
wording of the referendum
proposal, and the type of PR
system it proposed, which
was termed BC-STV (
Some Australians - among them our longest-serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies - have remarked on the difficulty of altering Australia’s Constitution, where a proposed alteration must be approved by both a simple majority (just over 50%) of voters overall, and a simple majority of voters in a simple majority of States to succeed. That double majority is child’s play compared with the difficulty of gaining a 60% double majority!
The table that follows summarizes the percentage of votes at the 2005 referendum in favour of the single-member system being replaced by the BC-STV system, and the percentages of votes for the three largest parties at the concurrent 2005 elections and the previous 2001 elections.
most impressive feature of
the referendum result was
the extent to which the
other demanding proviso for
the referendum to become
binding was exceeded. A
majority was required in at
least 47 of
The table overleaf details the referendum and the 2005 election results in each electoral district. It shows that, of the 16 districts where the YES vote exceeded 60% and is shown in bold type, the Liberal Government won 7. The remaining 9 were won by the New Democratic Party. Support levels between 57% and 60% were achieved in a further 23 districts. The two electoral districts where the NO vote won a slim majority appear with a bold border. In 61 of the 79 electoral districts (77%) the representative elected obtained less support (see the asterisks in the table below) than the YES referendum option in that district.
The Liberal Government had made clear the legal reality that if re-elected it would not be prevented from introducing BC-STV if the result of the referendum fell slightly short of one or other of the two special majority percentages of 60% that it had imposed.
As the overall YES vote was so close to the 60% special majority, its supporters called on the Premier, Mr Gordon Campbell - the first Assembly leader to win consecutive terms in two decades - to proceed with electoral reform.
Malcolm Mackerras, visiting
The Speech from the Throne when the new Parliament is opened in September 2005 will outline the Government’s legislative program. On election night, the Premier saw the strong positive early vote as showing "a real hunger to move and to look at ways of improving our system of electing our legislature.”
Thanking Contributors to the PRSA’s Donation to the BC-STV Campaign
Society of Australia
appealed in QN2004D
for contributions to let the
PRSA assemble a worthwhile
donation to the “Yes
Campaign Committee” leading
the campaign for a strong
YES vote in
It is pleasing to report to members that the PRSA was able to make a donation of $A1,420 ($C1,344.60 on conversion before transfer) to the Yes Campaign Committee. That donation was gratefully received, not only for the practical financial assistance it represented, but also for the feeling of international recognition and support that it denoted.
The PRSA’s Victoria-Tasmania Branch contributed $500, the NSW Branch gave $150, and the balance was made up of contributions by the ACT Branch, the National Society, and individual members of PRSA Branches, including the Hon. Neil Robson, a former Tasmanian Minister administering that State’s Electoral Act.
Call for Nominations for Elections of PRSA Office-bearers for 2006-07
Returning Officer is Mr Jim
Randall, Secretary of the
PRSA's NSW Branch. Under the
the Returning Officer
rotates among the Branch
Secretaries. The order, by
Victoria-Tasmania, NSW, SA,
Victorian Redivision for Upper House PR
The Electoral Boundaries Commission of Victoria has begun its process of inviting written submissions from the public on proposed names for and boundaries of the eight electoral regions for the November 2006 elections for the Legislative Council (See QN2004D). The PRSA’s Victoria-Tasmania Branch made a written submission in April 2005, which was displayed on the Victorian Electoral Commission Web site.
The PRSAV-T submission recommended using broad geographical names for the eight regions, which were each formed by grouping 11 contiguous Assembly districts as compactly as possible. The Branch noted advantages of a more radial model, but concluded that a compact model would be more practical, and be much better received.
Branch’s suggested names for
the regions it proposed were
Eastern Victoria, Western
Victoria, Port Phillip East,
Port Phillip West, Northern
Central, Eastern Central,
Southern Central and
proposed region, Western
Victoria, included no
Assembly districts from
UK House of Commons Polls: May 2005
The table below (UK Electoral Commission data) shows the Opposition Conservative Party won 32.3% of the national vote, but won a slightly lower percentage of the seats. Other parties and candidates together, with their historically high percentage of the votes, slightly outdid the Conservatives, but won just 14.2% of the seats. Over 50% of all votes were for defeated candidates, and those votes were thus totally wasted.