The Con/LibDem government has announced that a bill about the electoral system will be submitted to parliament proposing a referendum on May 5, 2011, on whether to keep “first-past-the-post” or switch to another system known as the Alternative Vote (AV).
Why must we be satisfied with the offer (see below*), made first by a desperate Labour party last year, of such a bad “reform” of the electoral system, “alternative vote”? New Zealand in the 1990s showed us a democratic way to go from first-past-the-post to a fairer and party-proportional system. In 1992 the people of New Zealand were asked (a) if they want a change then (b) which of four electoral systems they would prefer! The systems considered were: Mixed Member Proportional, Supplementary Member, Single Transferable Vote, or Preferential Voting. For descriptions of these consult the Electoral Reform Society or the London School of Economics Guide.
The Conservative/LibDem coalition’s plans are not chiselled in stone. With an effective campaign one or more alternatives to AV and FPTP could be pushed into the public debate and so widen eventual choice.
* See some comments:
Cameron Clear as Mud on AV. WSJ Blogs Iain Martin On Politics July 5, 2010
Nick Clegg July 2010 “Surely when dissatisfaction with politics is so great, one of our first acts must be to give people their own say over something as fundamental as how they elect their MPs.”