Tag Archives: single transferable vote

D’Hondt complain afterwards if you d’Hondt understand it…

Not everyone in the country takes a lot of interest in the intricate details of electoral systems, and that probably includes most politicians including the new Chukkers on the block, and almost all the media.

A lot of people know that you can have “first past the post” (FPTP which in practice usually means the candidate who has got closest to the post when the whistle goes) and “proportional representation” which includes all the other systems ever invented. And that’s about it.

The thing is that the way the votes are counted is one of the two things (together with how people vote) that decides who gets elected. Stalin is supposed to have said that what matters is not how people vote but who counts the votes. In the Euro elections, the counting takes place by a system known as d’Hondt after one Victor of that ilk who is (possibly) one of the most famous Belgians to have lived.

FPTP is designed for a binary choice. It works perfectly when there are only two candidates – or in a for-and-against referendum. In elections when there are lots of parties, all standing for different things, it’s hopeless. On the other hand, d’Hondt is designed for just that – it will allocate seats more or less proportionately between lots of parties standing for different things (though it discriminates against the smallest ones). It is useless at making a binary choice.

Yet it has for a long time been as clear as daylight that if we have EU elections next month they will be proxy for a new referendum on the UK’s EU membership. It would work if there were just two parties standing (though I suppose we would have to let the Labour lot in to provide a third choice for the fence-sitters.) In practice, there are going to be more serious contenders than ever. And there is a huge danger that Farage’s Brexit party will sweep up the Leavers and “top the poll” in both votes and seats, while the People’s Voters and Remainers are split umpteen ways.

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Opinion: Never Mention “STV” Again

The Liberal Democrat Conference opens today in Birmingham with perhaps the most depressing talking shop ever put on a Lib Dem Agenda. It’s the consultative session for the “May 2011 Election Review”: a big drop in the popular vote; a major setback on local councils; a disaster in Scotland; a total and utter thrashing in the AV referendum. And it’s the last that looks the most hopeless.

Is electoral reform finished for good, or at least for a generation? Instead of endlessly debating what went wrong, there’s one major change we can make right now to improve things next time: …

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Opinion: Chris Bryant is right, though he doesn’t know why

As I write, Chris Bryant is arguing during the Whole House committee for the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill that a method for drawing up constituency boundaries that is severely confined by a mathematical formula is misguided.

I completely agree, although possibly for a different reason to the one he uses to support his argument.

Mr Bryant has been arguing that a strict mathematical formula will have to ignore natural geographical and physical boundaries.

It’s true: to bring in the Bill as it stands will create constituencies that are almost constantly shifting and where previously combined communities may very well find themselves …

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott – AV is not the only vote

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, former Conservative, now Liberal Democrat, MEP Edward McMillan-Scott argues there should be a third option in the coming referendum on electoral reform – the single transferable vote. Here’s an excerpt:

I understand that the Electoral Reform Society and senior Liberal Democrats have concluded that the alternative vote option presented in the coalition agreement is the best that can be achieved at this stage and that any discussion on the issue will cloud the debate. …

Single party advantage has no part to play in what amounts to a change of constitutional significance. Westminster has

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How can we sell the Single Transferable Vote to the public?

The last 24 hours’ focus on voting systems – surely every Lib Dem’s dream come true? – have highlighted just how hard it will be to gain acceptance for the party’s preferred proportional voting system, the single transferable vote.

It’s no surprise that almost all MPs from the two establishment parties, Labour and the Tories, are desperate to hold onto the electoral system that secures their cosy hold on power: just five Labour/Tory MPs voted to include STV in any referendum on voting reform.

But it will also be the case that a significant portion of the country will …

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The 14 non-Lib Dem MPs who backed the Single Transferable Vote

The House of Commons yesterday voted by 365 votes to 187 to hold a UK-wide referendum on changing the voting system next year from first-past-the-post to the alternative vote. The Lib Dems reluctantly voted for the alternative vote, as the most modest of improvements on the current, broken system.

But the party, in the person of Cambridge MP David Howarth, also moved an amendment to leave out ‘an alternative-vote’ and insert ‘a single transferable vote’ – in other words, to ask Parliament to approve an electoral system which would at last reflect the votes cast for parties across the country, …

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LibLink: Chris Huhne – The alternative vote is not the solution

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free site, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne argues Labour has got it wrong in proposing a referendum on the Alternative Vote: only the Single Transferable Vote will remedy the unfairness of the present system. Here’s an excerpt:

is very similar to first-past-the-post in two key respects. Because it is based on single constituencies – a virtue for its proponents, who say they prize the constituency link – the parties continue to select one candidate each, and the voters only have one choice for each party.

That means that in the majority of parliamentary

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The Independent View: Three myths about PR – and one uncomfortable truth

Jason O’Mahony was a former activist and candidate for the now defunct Irish Progressive Democrats. He now blogs on politics at www.jasonomahony.ie .

Let’s be honest. In the darkest chambers of British psephologist hell, beneath the pit of Parliament Channel subscribers, and even deeper than the cavern of sweaty handed ‘I’ve just found a 1970 Enoch Powell election poster. In crisp condition!’ enthusiasts, there is a special place reserved for Proportional Representation aficionados. Even amongst political anoraks and people who feel passionately about Peter Snow they are the underclass.

Of course, as an Irish political activist, who has lived his entire …

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Lord Roberts writes … Our Electoral System – not fit for purpose

The need to reform the Electoral System was underlined by a number of us on the Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords.The possibility of it being included in the Queen’s Speech was always minimal but we dared to hope..

We are still living in an age with a system that goes back 200 years. We are trying to run a modern democracy on a dinosaur of a system. In 1832, the Great Reform Act just doubled the electorate from half a million to 1 million. In 1867, the electorate was increased to 2.5 million. In 1884, agricultural workers were added and the electoral total went up to 5 million.

In 1918, the great leap forward came when women aged over 30 were given the vote and the total electorate became 21 million. This was further increased to 28 million in 1928 when women and men aged 21 and over could vote. In 1960, 18 year-olds were added and today the total electorate is in the region of 45 million.

We are using a system devised for half a million people for an electorate that is now 45 million. The system goes back to the time when there were only two parties, Whigs and Tories, later Liberals and Conservatives. There were straight fights in every constituency apart from those with unopposed returns.

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Opinion: Forget open primaries, and go for STV instead

During the debate on MPs’ expenses at the Lib Dem conference recently, one of the speakers, Michael Meadowcroft, suggested that instead of having open primaries as a way of restoring trust in the political process, why not use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) instead?

STV has been the preferred voting system of the Liberal party and Liberal Democrats for many decades, and was championed by the greatest liberal of all, John Stuart Mill, in the nineteenth century. This week Gordon Brown announced that Labour, if re-elected, would propose a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) system, in which instead of marking your ballot paper with an X, you write down your preferences by rank, 1, 2, 3, etc …

The problem with AV is that you are still only electing one person per constituency.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTony Greaves 19th May - 10:09pm
    Thanks for posting this - it's reminded me to put it in my diary!
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th May - 10:04pm
    @Jayne Mansfield Jenkins made, as one would expect from him made a very elegant argument for his system and there have been top-up systems introduced...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th May - 9:04pm
    @John Marriott Heseltine did mention standing as a "Conservative and National Liberal", I think, in a recent interview but it was I think more a...
  • User AvatarGlenn 19th May - 9:02pm
    The second one isn't me
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 19th May - 8:39pm
    @ Glenn, Have you started talking to yourself?
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 19th May - 8:25pm
    Good points Katharine. We should only promise what we are certain we can deliver. At the same time there has to a vision of a...