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Should the electoral system change?

10:21 UK time, Friday, 2 July 2010

A referendum on changing the UK's voting system is planned for 5 May 2011, the BBC understands. Would you support the move?

A vote on changing from first-past-the-post to the alternative vote (AV) could be held on the day of Holyrood, Welsh Assembly and English local elections.But the government must first get it through Parliament and may face a rebellion by Tory MPs.

Many Labour MPs oppose a referendum - something pledged as part of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition deal. It is thought the referendum will be linked to plans to change constituency boundaries, which is a key concern of the Conservatives but something fiercely opposed by Labour.

Is the current voting system fair? Does a change need to be made? Is AV the right option to turn to?

Q&A: Electoral reform


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  • Comment number 1.

    Another devious tactic to propergate the myth of democracy. In reality an erosion of our "voice" and yet more power to the status quo.

  • Comment number 2.

    Does the electoral system need to change? you bet it does. The AV system does not give true proportionality though. The Scottish Parliament is elected under an additional member system, which is better than the additional vote being proposed, but I think that the best system would be the Single Transferable Vote (STV) in which the number of votes cast would be as near as possible to the number of MPs of each party being elected. This would mean larger constituancies, each with several members, and the traditionalists say that we would lose the link between MP and constituants, but how many people have ever met their MP, never mind formed a close link with them.
    The system being proposed is merely a sop to the Lib-Dems, and does not come anywhere near what they have been advocating for years. Looks like they have sold out to the Tories again.

  • Comment number 3.

    spacekadet wrote:
    Another devious tactic to propergate the myth of democracy. In reality an erosion of our "voice" and yet more power to the status quo.

    How predictable and pathetic !

    Don't try to engage, don't try to put any effort in, don't try to do anything that may have some positive outcome because sitting on the sidelines making snide comments is far easier and what's more you never have to deal with the possibility of failing because you never even bother trying in the first place.

    If you want to make things better then you have to do something more constructive than sitting around whining about how everything is so unfair and how your rights are being taken away from you.

    Get off your backside and do something for a change !

    The reason our Democracy is so weak is because more people sit around whining about life being unfair than ever actually try to do something about it, if all of you moaners put 10% of the effort that you put into moaning into something constructive then we may actually achieve something for once and maybe, just maybe we could just turn this country into a real Democracy.

  • Comment number 4.

    First: I agree with the idea of the referendum and I would vote 'yes' if asked.
    If anyone want's to see a reason for it look no further that the BBC report regarding the Labour leader in Scotland agreeing with Ms. Hyslop of the Scottish Government's comments regarding disrespect. Here, we have the classic example of a senior Labour plolitician joining forces with his sworn enemy to gain points for his own party against the other two - nothing whatsoever to do with a 'for or against' referendum question or bringing just government to any UK country whatsoever.
    As for holding th referendum on the same day as the Scottish elections: The UK government would do well to rememeber how much it cost to sort out the fiasco after the Scottish elections in 2007. I presume we will still be trying to save money by May next year!

  • Comment number 5.

    I predict that this 'referendum' will be fixed by the government to get the result they want.

    The government will control the question, do that and you can control the answer. Think this hasn't happened before?

    When Australians were given a referendum on whether to change to a republic, the government, (who didn't want the change) rigged the question. They asked the public if they wanted a republic in which the politicians chose the head of state or to retain the Queen. Most Aussie's objected to the politicians making the choice and so gave a resounding no-to-change vote, just as the Australian government wanted.

    We now hear that this referendum is to be linked to boundry changes, surely we have the boundry commission for that?

    What nest?

    Are we going to find that a yes vote includes our approval of the political fix that keeps the condems in power for 5 years?

    What I want on the referendum is this question;

    If the government is to reduce the size of departments by an average of 20% do you want there to be 20% LESS MP's?

    That everyone would vote for!

  • Comment number 6.

    Anything that serves to remind MPs that they are PUBLIC SERVANTS rather than in Westminster to trouser as much cash and priviledge as they can is a good thing.

    I'm fully in favour of coalitions there drive out the lunatic branches of all parties.

  • Comment number 7.

    I prefer STV to AV, possibly because I'm more accustomed to it! Actually I think it is more able to reflect the views of the majority of the electors within a constituency.

    The key thing, though, is to retain the link between constituency and individual Member of Parliament. I want to know who is representing me, and to be able to hold him directly accountable.

  • Comment number 8.

    The current voting system is outdated and unfair.

    STV does not work as well as the LD's think and often mushes up the results.

    AV is a fair alternative. A step in the right direction.

    However, the best one I have seen is the one the Welsh assembly uses.

    Additional Member. This gives us, in Wales, regional AM's as well as more local AM's. It works very well and the Welsh Assembly also works very well as anyone who has bothered to view it at least once to find out what it's about, could tell you.

    Additional Member ensure that the bulk of the community get the AM thye want but also gives representation to the large minority of second place voters. In Wales that means that the Conservative voters in vast Labour strongholds get someone in the Assembly to represent them too. And if you actually look at results in the South Wales Valleys (for example) you will see that most constituencies have never had a parliamentary representative for about one third of their population.

    Additional Member might seem counter inutitive to many but is is a very nice system that leads to some balancing out but does not skew the overall result.

    STV would juts make us like the weaker EU states in permanent coalitions and this would be a very bad thing for the UK as we have a center gorund party that hardly anyone likes that would be the permanent power broker under that system.

    We need a written consitiution and a new parliament building too, not to mention equal representation for women.... but lets leave that for another day.

  • Comment number 9.

    Should the electoral system change?

    Yes, I say.

    Again my "yes" is in the Indian context on its electoral system. May the BBC help me voice this important change expected in our electoral system?

    The majority among the Indian electorate is bereft of minimum qualification, to read or write. The candidates are goons from political gangs operating on letter-heads locally in each big town in India. They never have any basic qualification to frame laws in the State legislatures or in our Parliament. Most of those elected were confirmed criminals including many State Chief Ministers and even a lot are there in the Union Cabinet. Against most of them, there are umpteen number of criminal and cases on corruption are still going on in the dead courts of law rotting this nation.

    Both who stand in the elections and those who elect such corruptors are either politicians or businessmen. Their only aim is hoard money that poor taxpayer’s cough out from each session of the Union budget.

    The EC or the Election Commission is a blind self-controlled (independent) institution stage managing the election shows periodically to the delight of politicians buying voters on false promises. As the British philosopher said that, scoundrels resort to politics to rot India in the fair and boring name of the largest democracy in the world. The election commission is a sleeping beauty to the nauseating stench making the so called sacred process in democratic mode, elections a breeding ground for that which owns a sty, the politicians.

    Come democracy! A misdemeanour wisely used to fool a population of 1.3bn in the Indian subcontinent. This word that is ebbing out the life in my nation for last 60 years since when we shot killed Gandhi for his "crime" to make India independent and democratic from the British. But, today democracy in its over-dose made us all doze over our fundamental rights being made to read only in our much acclaimed Constitution which proclaims our birth right but never said a word on our responsibility and accountability to building our nation, India.

    We need a dictatorship akin to the one we enjoyed during the emergency imposed on us by Indira Gandhi in 1974-'75. It made us know a bit on responsibility and accountability. With our open market economy and civil rights protected by media-courts during every other news hours in thousands of TV channels, we are standing naked with our political system being converted to public looting done by corrupt government officials. Corruption is now in our system of blood. Elections invigorate it for every 5 years.

    We need a big change in our electoral system. If we talk on that publicly, we are termed radicals. Leaving the politicians aloof, our electoral laws would hunt and hound us down to the by-lanes we live in India. Whereas, those corrupt politicians are bestowed with repeat rewards as ministers and chief ministers and in the UnionCabinet.

    It is all due to our election laws.
    Our electoral laws never prevent goons from ruling us.
    Our electoral laws provide State protection to proven corruptors in our political system.
    We are ashamed
    We need to laugh at us.
    But, our electoral system makes us cry and dry.

  • Comment number 10.

    Of ocurse! people are fed up with the same two parties and that there vote counts for nothing. Many people now work abroad, even if it's just for a year or too and see how well PR works in other countries, like germany.

    Some even stay away... eventually the old people who still believe the lies spread around by Con/Lab about PR will be a minority... a minority in a care home wondering why there are almost know nurses looking after them... they've all gone abroad to where their vote actually counts.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    What is the point. From comments heard on this mornings Today Programme from various Policticians it will not matter one jot what the electorate say in a referendum, those same Politicians will vote it down in Parliament anyway. What a farce. Democracy - a word Parliamentarians fail to understand. Why offer a referendum at all, along with expense, unless the Government and Opposition state categorically they will abide by that decision. However we have seen a 'cast iron' promise from David Cameron before, and that was put aside. Mr Cameron promised a new style of Government. Yeh right - providing it means that nothing will change. You only have to see and hear what is happening to the expenses problem.

  • Comment number 13.

    As the current system and altered boundaries favours Labour then yes changes should be made.

    Many young people do not and have never voted, they claim not to see any relevence to themselves. Schools could do a lot to encourage debate and foster an interest in politics in a unbiased way.

    Alternative methods of voting which are foolproof unlike the postal vote should be investigated to encourage people to participate.

  • Comment number 14.

    Woo Hoo

    finally my vote will count.

    looking forwards to watching the right wing press froth rabidly at the mouth as they try to convince their sheep-like readers that better representation is actually a bad thing....

  • Comment number 15.

    AV is no more than statistical slight-of-hand. It creates an illusion of broader political representation but moves us no closer to any genuinely proportional system.
    A referendum on AV is a cynical move to postpone a proper debate on a variety of voting systems - a debate many would have welcomed.
    I was going to say that I was surprised that the LibDems had fallen for such a cheap trick - but nothing about that opportunist bunch surprises me any more.

  • Comment number 16.

    As far as I and I am sure many Liberal Democrat voters are concerned this was the primary reason why we can countenance a deal with the Tories.

    AV isn't PR but combined with equalisation of constituencies and a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber elected via PR it is a considerable step in the right direction. This is fairer for all voters not just those who vote Lib Dem.

    Should, because of self interest the Labour and Tory Parties and their backers in the Media campaign successfully against a move which is clearly a step towards greater democracy I suspect that very few Lib Dem supporters would countenance continuing to support the Tories in office.

  • Comment number 17.

    Whilst I agree fully with proportional representation I would vote against the prospect of AV which I disagree with completely as it is designed to maintain the status quo.

  • Comment number 18.

    If we end up with proportional representation, it will be a disaster.
    There will be no majority on votes and nothing will be achieved.

  • Comment number 19.

    The system does need to change, but if cannot be just change for changes sake. I don't think any of the ideas on the table are better than what we have. Our system in has major problems but I don't think these are a solution. What I would like to see is a more American style system, where we vote a PM directly (from any party) and MPs separately. All they want form this change is to make the decision process easier, not better and not fairer.

  • Comment number 20.

    Well the current electoral system is rubbish, so anything would be better. Iam now 50 and have voted in every General election since I was 18, and the majority of the other elections, and I don't think my vote has ever made a difference.
    All the constituencies I have ever lived in have been 100% safe seats, be it for the Consaervatives and Labour, so effectively nobodies vote made the slightest difference to the actual result.
    It is silly that our electoral result comes down to the decision of a very small number of floating voters in a little over 100 seats. You also have the absurd situation where a party can get a landslide result with only 40% of the popular vote.

  • Comment number 21.

    Nick Clegg this will be when you find out now that you have no freineds in politics,you will also find out that the tories are using you and your poll ratins will plummet.
    The Tories supporters will not vote for electrol reform,you kicked the Labour supporters were it hurt by letting the Tories back in so I for 1 will not vote for it and others who have talk to are the same .
    Therefore you have no chance.
    Now lets go back to post election and the Lib Dems and Labour form a coalition if that would have happened you would have stood a chance
    When the cuts start to hit and people are out of work claiming the benefits which are also going to be cut and the increase in VAT you will be back down to holding the Lib Dem party conference in a local village hall

  • Comment number 22.

    Electoral reform is long overdue, but the stv option is just plain stupid!
    Why can't we just have a plain and simple "pure" form of PR, one person, one vote which is easier and fairer.
    Why can't we also have an option to vote for "none of the above" added to each voting form (local and national).

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm in favour of electorial change and this is what the LD's want it's the reason why they have ditched their manifesto promises and gone along with the Tories. A year away, that should give Cameron breathing space and keep the LD's quiet for quite a bit longer. We have a system whereby millions of votes don't count and a few marginal constituencies have a disproportionate amount of power, so a change is long overdue. We will have a long run up to this referendum which will keep the public and other parties engaged whilst the Cons bring in the unpopular changes they want, crafty move

  • Comment number 24.

    Yes it should but I doubt they'll ask the right questiosn ina referendum. Unless they offer the options of PR or "none of the above" I won't vote.
    The politicians will then claim victory (or otherwise) fro their version of democarcy thatthey are prepared to offer

  • Comment number 25.

    "It is thought the referendum will be linked to plans to change constituency boundaries, which is a key concern of the Conservatives but something fiercely opposed by Labour."
    No surprises there; labour changed the constituency boundaries in their favour, as we all know.

  • Comment number 26.

    As #5 JohnH hinted earlier, a lot will depend on what the question is and how it is framed. If the choice is, say, between first past the post, AV and STV, how will the decision be made - will it be by choosing the most popular answer, ie by FPTP? What if there is a very tight choice between the three but, on a transferable basis, one of the 3 is a clear winner?
    I agree with #4 Jim Currie; holding the referendum on the same day as other elections does give the opportunity for the losers to claim that the voters may have been confused (as happened in Scotland in 2007).
    Finally, how about, as a radical step, we also make voting compulsory for over 18s and give a valid "none of the above" option?

  • Comment number 27.

    Who cares load of nonsense anyway

  • Comment number 28.

    Yes but way more than what they are proposing.
    At the moment we have two (and a bit) parties that are almost exactly the same (they change depending on what the other does or does not do).

    How is that helpful?
    We need a real choice with real differences.

    Also I would like to see politicians stick to their promises (within reason) - How about making politicians do a percentage of what they promise in their manifestoes?
    At the moment they can promise the world and deliver ... higher taxes (which is worse than nothing)

  • Comment number 29.

    If it does we will end up with worse cobbled together governments than this one. So no.

  • Comment number 30.

    Yes, it needs to change - the current system has done immense harm to this country by having a see-saw between the two largest parties for more than half a century, with the majority having policies imposed upon it by a minority... how we have put up with this for so long with so little complaint I really don't understand! It was only a combination of luck and (in some cases misplaced) tactical voting that delivered a different result this time.

    While I prefer STV, as with most things this coalition has agreed on, AV for the Commons with a fully proportional House Of Lords is a fair and workable compromise - it's actually not very far away from the Additional Member system, but in two houses not one. It will retain - in fact, enhance - the constituency link in the Commons, while giving a truly representative upper house... the only thing that needs to be done to make it almost perfect is removing the power of the Commons to force its will upon the Lords. Then the lower house has the decisive decision-making power so beloved of FPTP supporters but the upper house has a truly democratic power of veto against minority-imposed laws.

    AV also has the benefit of removing the need for tactical voting because it *is* a form of tactical voting - but with proper preference order taken into account. It should make people feel their vote really counts too.

  • Comment number 31.

    Why not include the question about whether we should remain in the EU or not as well?

    Kill two birds with one stone.

  • Comment number 32.

    no keep first past the post - the best option is to make voting compulsary and on the ballot paper have abstane box, it works in Australia.

  • Comment number 33.

    Should the electoral system change.
    The answer to this question is pictured in this snap of the last election:
    Labour won 29% of the popular vote, but 40% of seats.
    LibDem won 23% of the popular vote but 9% of the seats.
    Conservatives won 36.% of the popular vote but 47% of the seats.
    You can see that too many voters have ended up with representation for which they did not vote.The big hurt went to the LibDems who won 23% of the vote, but 9% of the seats. In other words, if you consider the overall representation, too many voters whose views are LibDem have no representation.
    But will AV address the problem?
    I don't think so. In fact it may confuse the situation even more.
    The Alternative Vote (AV) is too much like First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). Like FPTP, it is used to elect representatives for single-member constituencies. Instead of marking an "X", the voter ranks the candidates: '1' by first-choice; "2" for second, etc.
    If a candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, s/he is elected.
    If no candidate gains a majority on first choice, the second-choice votes of the candidate who finished last on the first count are redistributed. This process is repeated until someone finally gets over 50 per cent.
    I don't like this. I prefer:
    Fair Voting (which is often called Proportional Representation).
    This is the most progressive form of voting. About 80% of countries are using it in one form or another.
    The central principle: to get as close as possible to treating every vote equally. When each vote has equal value, election results are proportional: party receives 40% of the votes will receive 40% of the seats etc.
    What are the benefits of fair voting?
    All voters have a reason to vote because each vote means more.
    Because votes are treated equally, Parliaments are more fully representative of the people. Majority governments are true majority governments.
    Fair voting systems tend to produce parliaments with more females and minorities. This is due to the fact that parties must nominate potential representatives for each riding, and a representative that reflects the constituency simply has a better chance of gaining the most votes.

  • Comment number 34.

    Yes, a thousand times yes, right now we have an elected dictatorship.

    With PR the Liberals would have far, far many seats like about 30% representative of those who voted for them.

    The only drawback could be that members of BNP/UKIP and other, such in my opinion, odious xenophobes get in. However they would then be exposed for what they are and soon got rid of, so bring it on.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm very much inclined to vote against this, as a slap in the face for the Lib Dems who have sacrificed just about every principle they ever had, to make a Faustian pact for a puppet's share of power.

  • Comment number 36.

    It is a move in the right direction, and sets up conditions to move to a more fully PR system in the future.

    To those who say they want a strong link between themselves and the MP, do they think they have that now?

    The majority of MP's are in safe seats, we have no say in who wins the seat.

    Also, in many of these seats, because they are safe, party favourites are parachuted in, weakening the link even further.

    If we can remove safe seats, then it has to be a good idea.

  • Comment number 37.

    13. At 12:25pm on 02 Jul 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:
    As the current system and altered boundaries favours Labour then yes changes should be made.

    Seeing the Tories in the past have done their fair share of gerrymandering, this part of your comment just proves the Voting system is in need of radical change.

  • Comment number 38.

    Alternative vote is just a means by which Tories and Labour can get back the votes of voters who would rather not vote Tory or Labour. If Tories and Labour try to foist on the country an undemocratic voting system it will mean that voters who views are not represented in Parliament will be forced to take action outside of the Parliamentary system, which has shown itself to be utterly corrupt, incompetent and unfit to run the country. Some sort of mass populist movement – like the unions or chartists – may be needed to circumvent this proposed undemocratic Parliament.

  • Comment number 39.

    I (perhaps mistakenly) thought that the purpose of an MP was to represent their constituents. In order to do that, they need to get the majority of constituents to vote for them i.e. first past the post.

    If however, the purpose of an MP is to play party politics and ignore the voters then they will want another system.

    Think very carefully about this. If you want your vote to mean something at a local level then say "no" to changes.

  • Comment number 40.

    "A vote on changing from first-past-the-post to the alternative vote (AV) could be held on the day of Holyrood, Welsh Assembly and English local elections.But the government must first get it through Parliament and may face a rebellion by Tory MPs.

    Many Labour MPs oppose a referendum - something pledged as part of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition deal. It is thought the referendum will be linked to plans to change constituency boundaries, which is a key concern of the Conservatives but something fiercely opposed by Labour."

    This should be a televised debate in the house and 'I (we) might not get elected' should not be a valid reason for voting against the change.

  • Comment number 41.

    "Is the current voting system fair?" Certainly not.

    "Does a change need to be made?" Absolutely.

    "Is AV the right option to turn to" No way Jose! It's no better than the misnamed first-past-the-post (what post?). It's merely a fudge, to give the appearance of the winning candidate having majority support.

    What is needed is a system whereby if you don't support one of the two main parties in your constituency (it is usually two, that between them get the lion's share of the votes, though not always Lab and Con), your vote will nevertheless count, and may contribute to your favoured party getting some seats in Parliament, and you thereby getting some representation of your views.

  • Comment number 42.

    "looking forwards to watching the right wing press froth rabidly at the mouth as they try to convince their sheep-like readers that better representation is actually a bad thing...."

    It has always amused me that the press (and, to be fair, a very large proportion of the public at large) will bleat on incessantly about "democracy" and how "everyone's opinion should count" - and then in the same breath, they complain when someone who they don't personally like gets elected!

    Gerry Adams winning for Sinn Fein - George Galloway winning in Bethnal Green.....oh what chest beating followed! Oh what horror that these terrible people got elected.

    Well that's how your precious "democracy" works, folks. And whilst I know that some people get very hot under the collar when an alleged "extreme" person gets the support of a large number of people and becomes democratically elected, most people with any intelligence got over that sort of attitude in the playground.

    I'll say again something I have been saying for years, and which people never really listened to until just recently:

    Do you know why everyone has the right to vote? Because the powers that be know that the electoral system that is in place ensures that whatever the public vote for, nothing will ever actually change.

  • Comment number 43.

    The principle of voting reform is a good idea. Voting for a "minor" party should not be a wasted vote. The reality is completely different, as millions of people who voted LibDem will testify.
    It is ironic that the party that had campaigned for decades to have electoral reform, have in a few weeks, done more damage to that campaign than any supporter of the FPTP system could have imagined.

  • Comment number 44.

    A change to some form of 'PR' voting is necessary so that the composition of the Commons chamber more accurately reflects the way people voted in any General Election. However, there is one fundamental condition, in my view, to be met before any change takes place. All political parties must 'sign up' to the idea of coalition government and must abandon 'adversarial politics'. Politicians must bow to the will of the electorate and be prepared to compromise for the common good. The Con/Lib-Dem coalition of today has set an example of how this can be achieved. Too often, our 'first-past-the-post' electoral system has provided this country with minority administrations and a Commons membership completely unrepresentative of the popular vote. The effect of this has been to lower turnout and further erode our democracy. A second condition should be to make voting in General Elections compulsory, but I am not sure how this could be policed.

  • Comment number 45.

    The voting system should be changed. The new system should start with a first round where we dont feel afraid to vote for who we really want. Then, the most popular parties go through to the next round, where we vote again. If our chosen party has been eliminated, we get to choose our second favourite. This then goes on until we have a final 2 and then we vote for our preference. This would prevent the issue of people seeing a vote for their favourite party being a wasted vote, because we all know we can influence the voting at every stage.

  • Comment number 46.

    An excellent first step. The present voting system favouring "strong and stable government" is simply one that usually ensures that 60%+ of voters' choices are completely disregarded for five years. We do not really have a democracy, where all voices count. Next step should be to elect our head of state, and our prime minister.

  • Comment number 47.

    There is a far simpler solution, which requires no change to the voting procedure at all. Simply elect the two highest-polling candidates from each constituency. They can share the salary, which should still be adequate, and they can save on expenses by taking it in turns to travel to Westminster and share accommodation there.

    They will, of course, have to do the unthinkable, which is to work constructively with someone who has different ideas and opinions, like those of us in real jobs have to, but this will hopefully encourage the idea that their job is to represent the constituents who pay their wages, rather than the current priority, which is continually trying to get one over on The Other Side.

  • Comment number 48.

    spacekadet wrote:
    Another devious tactic to propergate the myth of democracy. In reality an erosion of our "voice" and yet more power to the status quo.
    Sadly he's right. Ive visited my local MP regarding various issues and nothing ever happened. MP's are largely powerless anyway. The cabinet is where the power is and in Tony Blair's case, not even that.The man in the street has been powerless to stop the many diabolical decisions, since the war, made by ministers with absolutely no mandate from the people. Democracy ? Don't make me laugh.

  • Comment number 49.

    Scottish External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop said: "It would be an extraordinary act of disrespect for a referendum on the voting system, which none of the mainstream parties in the UK actually support, to be held on the same day as the Scottish elections without any consultation with the Scottish government."

    If anyone's disrespecting the Scottish people, it's the SNP by implying that our tiny minds are not capable of dealing with more than one vote on the same day.

  • Comment number 50.

    AV is a very small step in the right direction... I will vote for it though as it is the only option!

  • Comment number 51.

    If there's going to be a vote, then there will be a campaign, I'll make my mind up then.

    In London, the form of PR employed on the London Assembly gave us the BNP, so, I'm not convinced that it's a great thing, just because of that, although in principle, it's fairer, but my personal form of democracy doesn't include the BNP, the Far left (who are all the same anyway, really), although they do add some spice to these fora, someone to throw the virtual bricks and molotovs at!!

  • Comment number 52.

    Is this about delivering fair politics to the public, or delivering more power to more politicians ? As a natural sceptic, I know which one I think.

  • Comment number 53.

    .... and have a new system where we routinely end up with politically shabby, cobbled together marraiges of convenience? Don't make me laugh! The current system may not be perfect but it is still better than the proposed alternatives.

    All this is a piece of posturing by Nick Clegg to cling to his new job of tea-boy to the Tory cabinet. We all know that it has no hope of passing through Parliament as neither the Tories nor Labour will support it. By promoting STV or PR, to pave the way for the Lib Dems to consistently sell themselves to the highest bidder, is the only way in which he can ever hope to have a lasting political influence.

  • Comment number 54.

    A referendum as long as it's worded fairly is welcome. Boundary changes should be part of the equation to stop the slur that each government changes them to favour themselves, Tories in the 80's and Labour in the 2000's. Whether AV will produce a more representative government I doubt the Labs and the Cons wouldn't vote Lib Dem's on a second vote so it will be tactical. Less MP's with a section based on proportional may at least introduce some form of fairness but AV isn't the answer.

  • Comment number 55.

    At 12:32pm on 02 Jul 2010, Governmentdept4propergander wrote:

    "Electoral reform is long overdue, but the stv option is just plain stupid!
    Why can't we just have a plain and simple "pure" form of PR, one person, one vote which is easier and fairer.
    Why can't we also have an option to vote for "none of the above" added to each voting form (local and national)."


  • Comment number 56.

    The lib dems are hoping people will vote:
    1. Lab/Tory
    2. Lib dem
    3. Nutter (BNP, Green etc.)
    Which will let them in. What I suspect will happen is:
    1. Lab/Tory/Lib Dem
    2. Nutter
    Which will let the nutters in.

  • Comment number 57.

    What we should have is proportional representation, AV is little better than FPTP. However since the Tory's were never ever going to go for that we'll have to make do with AV, at least it's a start.

    Hopefully some of the other government and electoral reforms will start pushing us towards some real changes.

    We are long overdue for electoral reform!

  • Comment number 58.

    Yes, we should have full prportional representation, immediately.

    This would mean that national elections would not continue to be decided by a few tens of thousands voters in marginal seats.

  • Comment number 59.

    No it should not be changed. One Man, One Vote, Counted Once. Anything else gives people who wish to vote for minority parties to do so and have their votes counted again for someone else. Why do they need their vote to be more powerful than anyone elses vote. You make a choice and pay the piper

  • Comment number 60.

    13. At 12:25pm on 02 Jul 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:

    As the current system and altered boundaries favours Labour then yes changes should be made.

    In the large region of England where I live, Tories got 1 MP for every 30,000 votes, the Lib Dems 1 for every 60,000, Labour 1 for every 125,000. "Altered boundaries" even ensured we got an extra Lib Dem locally where before it was all Tory. Another example of the most disgraceful Labour gerrymandering ever, isn't it?

  • Comment number 61.

    As per usual reform to the electoral system runs far behind public opinion. It is not electoral reform per se that should be the issue but rather what form of proportional representation should replace the current discredited system. Ideally, I should like to see the introduction of the single transferrable vote. Whilst, admitedly not being the panacea some claim it would in my opinion, go some way to restoring faith in the democratic process in this country.

  • Comment number 62.

    "Yes" we should have a new voting system.

  • Comment number 63.

    AV is almost useless.

    What we should fear is massive Tory gerrymandering - that's all they're really interested in.

  • Comment number 64.

    Why change what isn't broken? The myth projected by those in favour of proportional representation is that you get more influence over what happens to your country. But if you actually listen to the opponents of the present coalition government then they are suggesting that their voting pattern has actually given them less say and less influence.

    'We didn't vote Lib-Dem to get this' they cry. Well you will get more of it if you back PR and the single transferable vote is not PR by the way.

    You should be careful of what you wish for.

  • Comment number 65.

    I would have said Yes right up until the moment I saw Nick Clegg, Vince Cable et al ditching their manifesto promises by the bucket full so they could join the coalition with the Tories. Why should the balance of power be held by smaller parties when the electorate hasn't given them any kind of mandate to govern?

    By all means reform the current system to make it fairer but if the public wanted to see the LibDems in power they would give them enough votes to get there.

  • Comment number 66.

    The system should not change.

    The Liberals only want the change because the current system does not work for them.

    It's like the boy who takes his ball home because he doesn't like the way the game is going.

    Well Boo-hoo.

    They should make their policies more attractive to the electorate. Then this would not be an issue.

  • Comment number 67.

    I can't see how changing the system will make a difference. All I can say for sure is I won't be voting Lib Dem again. It appears that I inadvertantly voted Conservative last time I tried so I don't think I'll bother anymore. Let's face it, whoever gets into power throws their 'principles' out of the window at the first available opportunity. More fool me I suppose...I should have known those pesky politicians couldn't be trusted!

  • Comment number 68.

    Would I support the referendum on changing the UK's voting system?

    Yes, of course I would. Especially if it would keep Labour out!

  • Comment number 69.

    I would rather see a referendum on what sort of PR the public prefer first. Once we have had a vote for AV we will be stuck with the result for most of our lifetimes. It does not really enfranchise people who may vote for a minority party, such as the Greens, or who live in a 'safe seat'. Many people will still feel that it is not worth voting.

    I once heard that Plato contended that anyone who wants to stand for Parliament is the very worst person to elect, and the MPs should be chosen from the electoral register, like jurors. Someone even suggested this for the House of Lords. Sounds like the system has some advantages to me.

  • Comment number 70.

    It must change or Democracy in the UK will cease to exist!!!!!!!!1

  • Comment number 71.

    It would be great to finally have your vote count for something. It'll also be great to have fair constituencies too. Look at the percentage of votes cast and the number of seats for the respective parties. Whether you agree with the Lib Dems or not, is it fair they have so many votes and so few seats?

  • Comment number 72.

    I will definitely vote 'no'. I have few objections to FPTP, and a total aversion to BNP/UKIP (and even the Lib Dems)

  • Comment number 73.

    Democracy is the problem not the solution. Having to appease voters, coalition partners or unions within short 5-year parliaments ruins any long term planning one might otherwise introduce.

    We need to remove serious decisions from the vagaries of democracy and fix a permanent constitution like the Germans enjoy. Their governments are forbidden from over-borrowing for example, which is why they are in such good shape relative to the UK.

    In contrast, our previously democratically elected government gave us a national debt of £750+bn, an annual overspend of £150+bn and a set of banking regulations they found in a XMas cracker.

    Sound management of the UK requires leaders to ignore voters’ wishes, make hard decisions then carry them through for decades. Germany and China are the obvious examples where less democracy = more wealth.

  • Comment number 74.

    I think there should be electoral reform. I also think there should be a fair referendum where an impartial body is tasked with giving the public information and setting transparent and fair questions.

    Despite that, what really needs to change is to introduce proper state support for parties rather than the current system where the big three receive state funding but minor parties do not. Electoral budgets should be capped and the state should supply equal promotional opportunities to all registered parties/candidates regardless. This should amount to a set number of leaflet printings and deliveries, the printing and delivery of a manifesto, an allocation of political broadcasts in which politicans are allowed to speak to the camera and no more, public hustings and regulated local TV debates . That is far more fair than established parties having a stranglehold on the process.

    In other words, the marketing and the money should be taken out of politics. The world of business should not longer have a veto on democracy.

  • Comment number 75.

    56. At 1:03pm on 02 Jul 2010, Ben Essada wrote:

    "The lib dems are hoping people will vote:
    1. Lab/Tory
    2. Lib dem
    3. Nutter (BNP, Green etc.)
    Which will let them in. What I suspect will happen is:
    1. Lab/Tory/Lib Dem
    2. Nutter
    Which will let the nutters in."

    The nutters were in for over 13 years. We finally got them out in May. The proposed change will allow parties that actually represent the feeling of the given community to voice their opinion rather than accept the two party coin toss.

  • Comment number 76.

    Like a lot of people on here I'd prefer STV (or some other method of PR) to a simple AV system. However AV is head-and-tails better than the current FptP system.

    We live is a representative democracy, when we vote we are not electing a government, but our representative in parliament. AV guarantees that the elected candidate is the one at least 50% would prefer to the other remaining candidates (even if it may not be there absolute favourite).

    Where as the current system just means the candidate who can appeal to the largest minority of voters is elected. This was just about OK when people by and large voted for one of two parties, as most MPs were elected with over or just shy of 50% of the vote. But today with three large parties (4 in Scotland and Wales) and several substantial smaller parties (UKIP, Green etc), most MPs are elected on just over a 1/3 of the vote.

    But as we become more disillusioned with the big two parties and more of us vote for the third or the other smaller parties this proportion of the vote will get smaller and well probably see MPs elected with 25% or less of the vote. There is no way you can say this is representative.

    So if you believe in the heart of our democracy I can't see how you think FptP is better than AV.

    And if you want full PR, well Turkeys don't vote for Christmas and this is the best first step that has ever been put on the table.

  • Comment number 77.

    At least the Coalition are giving us a referendum. "Labour" promised us a referendum on Europe but never honoured their promise!

  • Comment number 78.

    This vote should allow us to select alternative alternatives rather than the single one proposed.

    We should be given proper options not just current or alternative vote

  • Comment number 79.

    We get the government we deserve.

    There is nothing wrong with the system, for which I am proud that it has stood the test of time. We are largely a two party state, either for or against policy. No government will ever satisfy everyone, but the idea of moving towards a multiple party approach undermines the strength of our government. So I am against change for changes sake.

    No X

  • Comment number 80.

    Yes, so long as it leads to the re-introduction of democracy with more power given back to the people.

  • Comment number 81.

    alan #21 Never too sure what LibDems are about anyway. As you appear not to appreciate the current arrangement are you Labour in disguise?

  • Comment number 82.

    Well Conservative voters won't want it and the recent budget and the Lib Dems backing for it will mean that Labour voters probably won't go for it either given that the biggest beneficiaries of the AV change would almost certainly be the Lib Dems, so regardless of the merits of alternative voting, the decisions of the coalition since getting into power have probably hacked off enough people to vote the referendum down, he's a political genius Nick Clegg and no mistake.

  • Comment number 83.

    I am a Lib Dem member and favour a true form of PR which AV is not.

    I havent decided yet, how I will Vote.

  • Comment number 84.

    Yes it should change, but the not so trusted political parties who preach democracy arounld the world are not even dicussing true proportional representation like Scotland with added members. No that would not give the fat cat M.P.'s absolute power given the last election share of the votes.The Tories 234 members, Labour 188 members,Lib Dems 149 members, U.K.Skip members 20, S.N.P. 11 members,B.N.P. 12 members and minor parties the rest. Now thats what I call Democracy. We need Drastic change. both houses should be reduced to a 100 members each. The house of Lord should be an elected hundred just the same system, If public services have to take cuts why not Parliment.

  • Comment number 85.

    How many will cry foul when the BNP reach 5% and have MP's and possibly the balance of power... Don't think it could happen? Then I suggest you study German history and in particular the elections from 1930 to 1933. follow this link and you may change your mind about about STV! Could history repeat it self??

  • Comment number 86.

    It's nice to see this government keeping its promises on holding referendums, unlike the previous one.

  • Comment number 87.

    Yes - let's have a system like they do in Italy where nothing gets done because the parties are too busy doing deals with eachother just so that the Lib Dems can have a few more MPs. Labour did its very best to destroy Britain - this will be the finishing touch.

  • Comment number 88.

    Ye s I will definitely vote.
    Since the date is the same one as the Scottish elections, and thus is very important for my country I will vote.
    Also since up to now there has been no consultation with the people of Scotland I will not be voting for this referendum.
    Am I still wearing woad and do I still run around with a claymore, am I still not considered worthy of voting for my own country's destiny? What makes me different from the Welsh? They seem to be able to make a choice there.
    This proposed referendum is an insult and shows a lack of respect.

  • Comment number 89.

    Anything that suggests proportional representation, or involves changing the existing boundary setup will obviously be fiercely opposed by Labour. It would mean we will probably never see another Labour government. The only reason they were re-elected previously was due to the ridiculous boundary setup that gives dozens of seats to Labour for a exceedingly small area or number of voters. Eliminating boundaries altogether as far as central government is concerned would be the fairest system of all. Governance of the country is supposed to be for the benefit of the country and everyone in it, not just the Labour MP's whoose bank balances now run into millions.

  • Comment number 90.

    All well and good but whats the point in a one party/ideology system!!! There is no difference between any of the political parties accept who gets to be leader!!

  • Comment number 91.

    The Idea of a true Democracy is just a myth like the idea of true communism or capitalism. It just cannot exist!

    An example: On Question Time a few months back I saw George Galloway saying he would vote against any bill that would reinstate some from of the death penalty. Yet, in a polled 80% of people were in favour of some form of re-introduction. Therefore Mr Galloway wrongly or rightly was going against the democratic majority of the people he suppose to represent.

    I would say that goes for every politician from Local Government up to National Government. The phrase that comes to mind is “I'm all right get your hand off my stash”.

    So you think your politician represents your views in a democratic way? Don’t be silly! They either are out for themselves or follow the party whip (which amounts to the same thing). The only way will be get any better democracy is to dissolve Political Parties, make all politicians independent and accountable to their constituents more than once every 5 years.

  • Comment number 92.

    May I make a suggestion let us think beyond the electoral systems that have been kicking around for the last hundred years and are still not popular!
    Using some basic spreadsheet level technology we could have a system such as the Relay System.
    The Relay System is a 'Fully Representative' system using weighted voting, which updates and improves the existing electoral system 'First Past the Post', by applying a further three easy steps, to give a very representative electoral system.
    Step one; each party is allocated all the votes cast for their unsuccessful candidates at a general election to be divided amongst the party's successful candidates, now MPs, equally as 'Party Votes'.
    Step two; add the 'Party Votes' allocated to the MPs to the 'Constituency Votes' they each received from their own constituency at the general election, to give each MP a 'Total Block Vote'.
    Step three; MPs use their 'Total Block Vote' whenever 'Divisions' are called for in the House of Commons and the MPs vote.
    With the Relay System, conservatives retain the 'First Past the Post' system the public know and trust, we would retain the constituency link to our MP and the way we vote would not change. Whilst liberals would in effect have 'Proportional Representation' because the way in which the results are used would change, giving us a representative system that holds equal all the electorate's potential votes regardless of their location, the size of their constituency and the demographics of their party's supporters. So virtually all the electorate's votes would count rather than just be counted.
    And Labour would not have to worry about boundary changes!

  • Comment number 93.

    Yes, but if the Tories were really interested in democracy (a laughable suggestion at the best of times) they would have been kind enough to have granted people the choice of whether they wanted PR.

    I'm in favour of proportional representation but should this referendum be won, it would be a step on the way to my ideal system of Parliament: an upper chamber (House of Lords) elected by PR and acting as the main legislative chamber; a lower chamber (Commons) elected by AV and acting primarily as a constituency chamber with some legislative powers; a directly-elected prime minister as head of state (I like the idea of our head of state being chosen by the ballot box rather than the Windsor womb); and a technocratic cabinet selected by the PM but approved by and accountable to parliament. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 94.

    Of Course ..It needs reform or at least a open vote.
    The relatioship between the English Scots and Welsh needs to be adjusted

    I personal would love to see English Scotch and Welsh full Governments For far too long the Scots and Welsh have been feathered bed by the English Tax payer. Now may be the time to cut the apron strings .

    Any Vote on Scottish and Welsh should included ALL UK VOTERS..
    thee are many many UK voter who believe that Scotland and Wales should o it alone ..The Benefits and savings then used to repay the national deb

  • Comment number 95.

    I don't like the current system which forces our representatives to follow party mantra rather than represent us. Anything that loosens the grip of political parties is a good thing. So much damage done by Blair and NuLiebour basically because they could do what they wanted with their majority. Hopefully it won't save him from being tried for war crimes.,

  • Comment number 96.

    Post 75: "The nutters were in for over 13 years. We finally got them out in May".

    Only to reintroduce even more nutters!

    Plus I believe after these 5 years there will no such thing as the Liberal Party – TAKE NOTE: Liberal Party Members

    You have sold your sole to the devil for a little power and this is already been seen in the polls.

  • Comment number 97.

    How soon we do forget Mr Cameron, its only been a few weeks and already lessons that were to be learned are soon forgotten.
    Darn right we should reform the electoral system then we can have an equal say in how the country is run. Aren't we reforming the government to make cuta and efficiencies? Cant we make the voting system more efficient?
    Vote for reform.

  • Comment number 98.

    Whatever system is chosen, get the lobby/interest groups of politics. Every PM we have had in the last 3 decades promises 'fairness' but we end up with just exactly the opposite.

    We are meant to be a Democracy, thats what was behind the Grand alliance of WW2 to promote self determination, democracy and liberation from tyranny, but that was before the disaster of Thatcherism-Blairism handing the Nation over to the cowboys and second hand car salesmen. We are not merely 'shareholding' or 'property owning' democray, just a Democracy will do.

    Banning the rightwing press will assist the democratic process no matter what system is selected.

  • Comment number 99.

    This will make little difference to how we are governed. It is not just the voting system that needs updating it's also how Parliament (both Houses)work. The government is becoming more Presidential in both style and content without having the appropriate checks to its authority that they have in other "democracies".

    It's a start but only a very small and stuttering step forward which may well be strangled at birth by the vested interests of MPs who weigh their votes rather than having them counted.

  • Comment number 100.

    No system is perfect but I'm reasonably happy with FPTP.
    Point it, it's easy to understand, research etc.

    So if it gets more difficult (in that I have to be informed enough to rank other candidates) then I probably won't bother. This recent election tells me I might as well not have voted anyway.

    Whatever system is adopted I want an "exclude this candidate" option so that those I cannot or have not researched (or simply don't like) do not get a rank and therefore, in the figure fiddling, it can't be transferred to a different candidate.


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