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October 07, 2005

The Tories and FTPT

Over at Make My Vote Count Paul has both the full paper from the Electoral Reform Society and a blogger friendly precis on quite how badly the FTPT system shafts the Tories. One that Jarndyce (who I met for the first time on Wed night at the book launch) should enjoy.

October 7, 2005 in Politics | Permalink

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Comments

The description of the current electoral system as "First Past The Post" is a misnomer. It implies that there is some fixed level of support (the "Post") beyond which the successful candidate will be elected. But this is not the case - you only need to get more support than any other individual candidate, not a particular level of support.

Surely the best method, whilst keeping the advantages of the current system (direct link between constituency and candidate) is to require the winning candidate to get over 50% support. This is best done by the so-called Alternative Vote system, whereby you rank as many candidates as you like in order of preference. In each round of counting, the candidate with the fewest votes drops out and then their votes are redistributed to other candidates according to the preference order indicated (if any). This would give a true FPTP system and ensure that the elected candidate actually has support from a majority of their electorate (even if not the first choice of over 50%).

Posted by: HJHJ | Oct 7, 2005 9:31:08 AM

_Surely the best method... the so-called Alternative Vote_

Well, if you want to shaft the Tories completely and permanently, then yes, the AV is the best system.

Posted by: Jarndyce | Oct 7, 2005 10:32:36 AM

Thanks Tim :)

And FWIW, AV can be horribly unproportionate, unless it is done in multi-member constituencies, whereby (crudely) it becomes STV, which is great :)

Posted by: Paul Davies | Oct 7, 2005 10:33:50 AM

The AV system can be horribly 'unproportionate' to what? First preferences, perhaps, but taking second (or subsequent) preferences into account would mean that every MP has a form of majority support. This would surely be more representative.

It might be bad for the Tories ( I suspect not - it is always assumed that Lib Dems prefer Labour to Tory, but this is highly questionable) but that's hardly the point. The question is whether it is more representative.

At the last election the two biggest parties received an almost equal number of votes and both far fewer than 50%. The preference between them of the rest of the population made no difference, which is unfortunate.

Posted by: HJHJ | Oct 7, 2005 11:34:35 AM

FTPT - First To Please Tony? Funding The Postal Turnout?

Judge
(Favouring The Pedantic Tendency)

Posted by: Judge | Oct 7, 2005 12:25:03 PM

One criticism of AV is: why should someone's second choice be worth as much as someone else's first.

Posted by: JohnM | Oct 7, 2005 1:26:30 PM

JohnM: it's a fair criticism, and one reason why I don't like AV. It could of course be overcome by the use of Condorcet counting, though I suspect that's a little complicated to be a realistic reform. Alternatively, you can probably take out the possibility of candidates with large non-majority pluralities being rejected by AV with multimember constituency STV, an altogether fairer method.

HJHJ: two points here. 1. i suspect you're wrong about LD's breaking for Labour (and, remember, vice versa) on 2nd preferences. 2. AV's also disp[roportionate in that it's no more likely to deliver proportional results (seat:vote ratio, say) _on the national level_ than FPTP. In fact runoff voting (Australia, France) can be even worse than FPTP in some circumstances.

Posted by: Jarndyce | Oct 7, 2005 2:23:04 PM

Once the voting system changes, the parties, if they're to survive, will have to change too. An AV system might well shaft today's Tories, but today's Tories need shafting, even they agree that they need massive change. The British people are conservative, the English even more so, and there'll always be mass votes for some sort of conservative (small "c") party. In fact at the moment we have 2 or 3 small "c" conservative parties, which kind of makes the point.

Posted by: dave heasman | Oct 7, 2005 2:41:21 PM

The point is that under AV you don't have to make a second or subsequent choice. The advantage is that candidates which most people actively oppose are unlikely to get elected (e.g. George Galloway).

Jarndyce: I repeat my question: Disproportionate to what? Under the current system you can say that the results might be disproportionate to votes cast for particular parties. But once you bring second and subsequent preferences into the equation to what are you saying the result is disproportionate? First preferences - perhaps, but then it is no longer a system just of first preferences.

Posted by: HJHJ | Oct 7, 2005 10:05:41 PM

The point is that under AV you don't have to make a second or subsequent choice. The advantage is that candidates which most people actively oppose are unlikely to get elected (e.g. George Galloway).

Jarndyce: I repeat my question: Disproportionate to what? Under the current system you can say that the results might be disproportionate to votes cast for particular parties. But once you bring second and subsequent preferences into the equation to what are you saying the result is disproportionate? First preferences - perhaps, but then it is no longer a system just of first preferences.

Posted by: HJHJ | Oct 7, 2005 10:06:53 PM

If the Tories genuinely believed FPTP was a good voting system, they'd use it to choose their leader. Same goes for Labour, the lying shits.

Posted by: Phil Hunt | Oct 8, 2005 7:09:21 PM