Sunday, September 05, 2010

On the AV referendum: turkeys vote for Christmas?

The Labour party certainly thinks so:
"Research released by the Labour Party suggests that the redrawing of constituency boundaries to reduce the number of MPs could lead to the Liberal Democrats suffering disproportionately more than any other party, with the heavy swing against them magnifying the losses."
If so, this would be quite amusing. I find the case for voting reform unconvincing. AV is not PR but they are similar in that both systems are more likely to produce coalitions. It is already clear that one of the claims frequently made for coalitions - that it produces more moderate consensual government - ain't necessarily so. You could still argue that it is nevertheless more representative of the electorate but this case illustrates the problem with this suggestion. Coalitions invariably produce compromises that no-one voted for, which is the case here - for Conservative and Lib Dem voters anyway:
"Normally loyal Tories are expected to vote against the legislation, pointing out that neither party in the coalition promised AV in their election manifestos."
Something that people didn't vote for is nevertheless to be proposed to them in a referendum and if the vote is positive, we'll see in the future more government based on compromises chosen by the winning parties, rather than the electorate. I don't mean to sound too dismissive; you could still reasonably argue that it would produce more congenial government in the long-run. It's just difficult to see how this system would be so obviously more democratic than the present arrangement.
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