Angus Reid have a poll about prefences on the voting system for general elections here. 52% of people say they would like a referendum on switching to the alternative vote system, but as I’ve often said before, people normally say yes when asked if they’d like a referendum about almost anything.

There were more interesting answers when asked about the voting systems themselves. Asked how they would vote in such a referendum a plurality of people (40%) would vote to switch to Alternative vote, while 31% would stick with FPTP. However, in a seperate question 62% of people said they were satisfied with the present FPTP system. Not, of course, that these are necessarily contradictory positions – just because people are satisfield enough with what they’ve got, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t think that an alternative would be even better.


55 Responses to “Angus Reid on the Alternative Vote referendum”

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  1. @ Trevorsden

    OK, as you’re not repeating the usual misrepresentation about PR and Hitler’s coup, I’ll say nothing of FPTP and the Apartheid regime, nor FPTP and ZANU/PF, nor of the benefits that STV brought to the governance of Ireland, including (eventually) in the North, following the Good Friday agreement (but not for UK elections, which may yet lead to further problems).

    I’ll also spare you questions about how the English who are eleigible to vote in Scotland and Ireland appear to have grown brains big enough to enable them to mark ballot papers 1,2,3,4,5… after a lifetime of using an X.

    This all currently boils down to the UK-level Labour/Tory duopoly being happy to alternate UK power for the benefits that it brings to the individual MPs concerned, and that fair representation can go hang, whatever the crisis facing representative democracy in the UK.

    John B Dick has clearly pointed out that
    ‘What you need with a coalition or minority government is grown up politicians’, and that this has increasingly been the case with all parties, and independents, in Scotland’s parliament since devolution.

    Meanwhile, let us weep that Mr Cameron and Mr Brown and their running dogs remain well short of the mark. And also carry on working hard to dump FPTP.

  2. I read somewhere a long time ago that the old chestnut that PR brought Hitler to power was rubbished by Goering himself in an interview with a British journalist shortly after the 1933 general election which still resulted in the NSDAP having only a minority govt, but having polled far ahead of its rivals at 43%. Asked a question about the problems of getting the Enabling Act through the Reichstag in 1933 Goering replied that if only Germany had had the British electoral system the NSDAP would not only have an overall majority, but would have had so since 1931, two years earlier! Mahematically he was correct. There is plenty of evidence that electoral systems do not create instability, but appalling economic situations and the lack of a national democratic habit do, whatever the electoral method!

  3. @ Tony Dean – spot on!

  4. @Tony Dean: I think the claim usually made about PR and the Nazis was that the system allowed them to initially get recognition when their support base was low, and that from that recognition they were then able to increase their support.

    But it’s a weak argument anyway. The political, economic and social crises facing Weimar Germany throughout its troubled existance make our own “crises” look like nothing. To argue that if only Germany had had a different electoral system then it wouldn’t have become dominated by an extremist party is ludicrous.

    @ WOLF MACNEILL: You’re joking right? To claim that the electoral system was the reason by the lack of democratic representation in Apartheid South Africa and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is quite clearly missing the pont.

  5. In a newspaper article they say that Av is really a bit of flim flam. The net result at the last election would have been to increase Labour’s majority, It seems Brown knows what he is doing. Even the Liberals are unenthusiastic about it.
    It seems the intent is to seem like reforming the system while really doing nothing. Leaving aside the cynicism of it. remember New Lab has had 13 to reform the voting system and done nothing. Now they are looking down the barrel they become coverts, sort of.

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