Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Proportional Representation or FPTP?

Following reading the article in The Independents on the fact that our electoral system is out of date, I fear I may have been swayed somewhat. Originally, despite my distinct Hiberno-Scottish blood and way of thinking, I had loved the way in which the British elections were conducted via their 'First Past the Post' system involving constituencies and the like. Now, after seeing the graphic on the front of the paper I am converted. 

Recently zero Green Party MP's were elected, but using Proportional Representation six would have been elected!!

I think a shift to PR, although I do not understand exactly how it would be implemented, would be a move in the right direction for the country in which we live. If we want to lead by example in terms of democracy then I suggest we begin to practice what we preach before we bomb Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with the Americans. We need a government that functions with more emphasis on compromise between parties and less on the need to get a majority over the opposition. Time for a change? I think so.

1 comment:

Kieran said...

God forbid I suggest you look at some of the things tried in Britains former colonies?

New Zealand has mixed member representation. From what I understand two thirds of members are elected for constinuencies and one third are elected proportionally.

Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory use the Hare-Clarke system, of which I am a great fan. The country is divided up into constituencies of equal size. Each constituency elects 7 members (or however many) proportionally.

The senate in Australia is basically a proportional system as well.

All Australian elections use preferential voting.

Proportional works as follows:
1. everyone casts a vote, in the hare-clark system they are required to number as many candidates as there are positions and then as many after that as they want. In Federal Senate elections people are required to number all candidates or select a party (then their vote goes according to how their party would number the preferences).

A quota is calculated, this is the number of votes a candidate must recieve to win a seat. The formula is Number of Votes/(Number of Seats+1)+1.

Basically in an election with five seats to be aportioned, you've gotta get just under 1/5 of the vote.

Then votes are counted, if anyone gets that amount straight up, they are elected. Then for any seats that remain, the lowest polling candidate is eliminated. There votes go to their next preference. Then the next lowest candidate is eliminated, their votes go to their next preference.

This goes on until five people reach quota.

Roughly speaking, if the greens get one fifth of the vote, conservatives one fifth of the vote, and labour three fifths of the vote, the you would get one green, one conservative and three labour.

If its more divided than that, as it often is, the outcome reflects the overall preference of the voters.

Its complicated, but I like it. As you can probably tell, I'm a bit of a voting systems buff.

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