Posted by Matt Walker on February 2, 2010
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?