A Level Politics

Improving your grade

Electoral reform

Posted by Matt Walker on February 2, 2010

brown Gordon Brown has announced that next week Parliament will discuss the prospect of electoral reform. Specifically it would discuss the  passing  a Bill paving the way for a referendum by the end of October 2011.

Brown is offering to replace the current first-past-the-post system with the Alternative Vote (AV), a system currently used in Australia. Elections would still take place in constituencies as with our current system, but voters would need to rank each of the candidates in order of preference. If a candidate does not win 50% of the electorate’s first preference votes,  then the second preference of the bottom candidate would get redistributed to the other candidates. This continues until a candidate reaches 50% support.

How this would affect the outcome of elections is difficult to say.  It is not a proportional system and could still deliver large majorities to parties. It would however ensure majority support for MPs. It would also allow people to vote with their conscience with their first preference of candidate, and then vote tactically on their later preference.

Whether MPs will support Brown’s proposal is another matter. The Conservatives have rejected it because they don’t want reform; the Lib Dems don’t like AV because the reform does not go far enough.

Other reforms were supported by Brown, such as elections within Parliament for select committee chairmen, as well as the use of e-petitions.

What do you think – a good idea, an unnecessary reform, or too weak a reform to bother with?

Gordon Brown outlines plans to reform UK voting system


7 Responses to “Electoral reform”

  1. Will Hazell said

    I’d be in favour of this, not only would it show that Labour is the party of change it sounds like it could work pretty well. I can imagine the Lib Dems being a frequent second choice so it would benefit them as well.

  2. Sam Dalton said

    In this proposed AV system, would people rank candidates in order of preference just for their constituency (and then normal FPTP rules would apply when allocating seats in the Commons), or would people rank candidates on a national level as well?

  3. Cassidy Gaffney said

    i agree with constitutional reform but is moving to AV really effective? I know that if i was voting for a bottom party like the Green party i wouldnt like to think that my vote was being given to labour, its as undemocratic as FPTP labour isnt the party of change labour is the party for closet tories trying to look like their making a difference. isnt it funny that labour have set this referendum AFTER the election that they are so obviously going to lose.

  4. Emma Marshall said


  5. Rupert Welply said

    AV is a more proportional form of voting; no more or less democratic than any other. You might sit there feeling selfish – that it’s a pity that you have to put a party you dislike in any sort of order of preference with a party that you like; however, as this will mean that smaller parties, who do, too, represent the views of many people in this country, will get more of a proportional chance to represent those views, I think that it’s a good thing.

  6. Hannah Readshaw said

    I personally think this is a little bit pointless isn’t the whole point in reform to make it better, AV is not really more representational the FPTP so what’s the point? I think if they are going to reform it they need to really dramatically change it or not bother. AV may let you put candidates in order of preference but is it really helping you get the candidate you want after all most people want one party after that what’s the point, if I had voted for a certain party then got my second choice I wouldn’t feel very represented. ??

  7. […] the advantages and disadvantages of first-past-the-post (FPTP), weighed against the options for reform. Thanks to the current election campaign, electoral reform is so sexy it might even make its way […]

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