Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Electoral Reform in the UK?

Part of the deal for the Con-Lib coalition in the UK is a referendum on the Alternative Vote system. Here is an analysis of what the results of the recent election would have been under SMD (First-past-the post), AV (alternative vote), or STV (single transferable vote) systems. The Conservatives favor the SMD system. Labour has at times advocated the AV system and the Liberal Democrats have long advocated STV.

Under AV, Lib Dems would gain largely at the expense of the Conservatives. But Labour would stay about the same. The substantive result would have been a more balanced coalition between the Lib Dems and either Conservatives or Labour.

At the same time, it appears that a referendum on AV would have a chance of passing. Reuters reports that about 60% of British voters support some more proportional electoral system. AV is probably the smallest change in that direction that could be proposed. It would - in elections like the one we just saw, strengthen the junior partner in a coalition. But in a really decisive shift of support, it might still allow for a single party government.


The Law Talking Guy said...

The other big change is the promise to have 5-year fixed-term parliaments (borrowing from the fixed-term US legislatures we have had since colonial days). I think that may have a very salubrious effect on UK politics.

Raised By Republicans said...

Well, it would probably favor the opposition. Under the current system, where the PM can call elections whenever (s)he wants but must do so at least every 5 years, the PM can call elections to coincide with spikes in support. With fixed election times they wouldn't be able to do that.

The Law Talking Guy said...

OTOH, having fixed electoral cycles encourages longer campaigns. Longer campaigns put the opposition under more scrutiny and force the opposition to start fielding candidates and issues too far in advance. I know the conventional wisdom is that snap elections help the incumbent party, but I wonder if (or how) we could get data about this. Indeed, have British politicians waited for moments of popularity to call elections, or have they not usually just waited almost 5 years? The cycles are 4-5 years: 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2010. It seems the effect of the 'snap election' is to reduce campaigning time.