Saturday, July 03, 2010

How STV Weakens the Constituency Link

Several commenters in the previous post have taken issue with my assertion that Proportional Representation, and most especially the STV system, weakens the constituency link - and this is the reason why I cannot support it. Let me explain.

The proponents of STV deny that STV weakens the constituency link. In their view, if you have bigger constituencies with 10 or 12 MPs you still get the constituency link because seats are awarded proportionate to the votes received. Well, in the sense that you have constituencies and MPs who represent them, the constituency link still remains. Sort of.

The trouble is, that in 3, 6, 8, 10 or 12 member constituencies no one would really know who their MP is, just in the same way that no one now knows who their MEP is. The second effect is that when they eventually find out who their MPs are, which of them do they contact with a constituency issue? The probability is that they will contact the MP representing the party which they voted for. Nothing wrong with that, you may say, but I think it is a good thing that current MPs represent ALL their constituents, not just those who put a cross against them on the ballot paper.

Can we also dispel the myth that AV is in any way proportional. The Jenkins proposal of AV+ where you had additional members would be. But it would put a lot more power in the hands of the central party. And of course under STV, the party has even more power and influence over candidate selection.

40 comments:

John M Ward said...

Actually, there is only one truly proportional system of election, and that is where everyone has one vote, purely for a party (or equivalent) and the entire country's votes are added up and seats allocated in proportion to votes cast.

Of course there will be fractions, and the total number of seats might need to go up or down a few to suit, on each occasion; but that's the only truly proportional method there is.

Of course, one cannot vote for an individual this way, and there are no geographic constituencies, so this is useful only for what one might call the law-making side on an MP's work.

If that's what these PR people really want, then let them make the case for it. I'd hate it, personally.

Any other scheme isn't "proportional", by definition so those folk can stop pretending that their pet idea is "PR": it isn't.

Munguin said...

I’m sorry but that is simply not true. In Scotland we use STV to elect out local councils in multi-member wards yet we all know who our local councillors are, indeed it gives us a choice of who to go and see. And let’s face it with the majority of things that people want their elected representatives to do i.e. bins, roads, housing, education etc you are more likely to go and see your local councillor than their MP so what is the point of that vaunted constituency link anyway. How many people can actually say that they went to see their MP? And what about? Was it really something that your MP had a remit to do anything about?

Shantanu said...

Ian your position only makes sense if the current system of representation is effective. Consider the following:

If you live in a safe seat for any paty and have a concern which you raise with your MP, what obligation do they have in the slightest to deal with your issue if it doesn't concern them or catch their fancy?

It might well be the case that tory friendly issues might spur a tory MP to act, even in a safe seat, if they could conceivably fall out of favour with the plurality, but in all other cases, the 1 representative per constituency link is wholly and utterly useless if there is no compulsion for that representative to act.


Under an STV or any multi-constituency system each MP must by necessity be depending on your vote, or the votes of people like you. In this fashion you can guarantee that, even if the seat might have been a solid colour under FPTP, the minority MP who has hoovered up the minor votes WILL listen to your concerns, if the plurality commanding MP wouldn't.

Personally, I would much rather have proper representation than some idealised but ineffective one.

Stephen Glenn said...

Also, after agreeing with Munguin, Iain the choice of who out of a short list actually gets elected is taken totally out of the hand of the parties.

Say you put up 3 or 4 candidates for a multi-member ward, it is the people who then rank them, indeed they may vote for one because they are a good constituency figure and not for the others because they do not like the party.

You were the one advocating open primaries for all parties and yet STV is just that.

Also what is it that is wrong with representing the proportion of votes cast that you are so against?

Oh sorry I forgot it's the hope of winning a whooping majority with 38% of the vote.

Will Cooling said...

Firstly, I don't think anybody is arguing that AV is proportional - indeed its the opponents of electoral reform who seem to be most prone to confusing AV and PR.

Secondly, I don't AV is that huge a change. All it really does is simplify tactical voting and in extreme circumstances allow the majority to outvote the plurality. The former will result in more first-preference votes for the micro parties (although I don't it would be translated into seats) while I believe the latter would only happen in very circumstacnes. Part of my job is to administer AV elections in a Students' Union, and its very rare that the person who wins the first round of voting does not go on to win the whole election. It really is safety mechanism for use in exceptional circumstances i.e. the candidate with a pluarity of first round votes is really objectionable or if its a three-way tie.

Thirdly, open STV does strengthen the consistuency link because it forces MPs of the same party to compete against each other for votes, so weakening the control that the party whips have over individual MPs. What's more having multiple MPs working in the same area will improve the service provided to consitituents - I mean's its basic free market principle of competition leading to better services being applied to democracy.

Mark Reckons said...

Iain. I'll try to address your main points here:

Your point about STV "weakening" the constituency link is one that can be debated. It depends what you consider a good link between MPs and constituents. Having one MP per constituency is of course one way to do it but there are disadvantages to this way too, for example someone who is say viscerally opposed to Labour may have to deal with a Labour MP. It is also possible that you want your MP to represent your views about something to which they themselves are diametrically politically opposed to. Now in both of those cases it is possible under a single member system for the constituent to be represented in a way that satisfies them but I would argue that under a multi-member system they would have a better chance of being well represented. Not least because if one of their MPs did not do a good job they could try one of the others. Conservatives relish competition in most other areas. It seems slightly odd how opposed they are to that same competition when it comes to the political sphere.

One other minor point, most advocates of STV do not suggest seat sizes of more than 6 MPs. Between 4 and 6 is the optimal amount. I just raise this because you lead with an example of between 10 and 12 which is basically double what would be likely to happen and is therefore potentially a bit misleading.

AV is indeed not proportional. I have heard a number of Tories using this as an argument against a "Yes" vote. However as you well know the Tories refused a vote on a proportional system. AV is a compromise which ensures a fairer result in each individual constituency and avoids the situation at the moment where nearly 2/3rds of all MPs (in the 2010 election) got in with less than 50% of the vote in their seat.

AV+ is a bit more proportional as you state but that was also not on the table from the Tories.

Your final point is just plain wrong. There is no reason why under STV the central parties should have more control over who is selected. That is entirely down to the way the selections are made. They could be similar to now with local parties choosing their candidate(s). It could be instead through open primaries or other mechnanisms that allow local people greater control over the candidates. Also, because each party is likely to be fielding multiple candidates to maximise their vote across the constituency there is a built in incentive to field a diverse range of candidates which should lead to more women and ethnic minority candidates standing.

No electoral system is perfect but most proponents of STV think that it is the least worst system available and that FPTP is just about the worst worst! AV is an improvement on the status quo. FPTP has all sorts of problems which I expect will be highlighted during the coming campaign.

Mark Reckons said...

Iain. I'll try to address your main points here:

Your point about STV "weakening" the constituency link is one that can be debated. It depends what you consider a good link between MPs and constituents. Having one MP per constituency is of course one way to do it but there are disadvantages to this way too, for example someone who is say viscerally opposed to Labour may have to deal with a Labour MP. It is also possible that you want your MP to represent your views about something to which they themselves are diametrically politically opposed to. Now in both of those cases it is possible under a single member system for the constituent to be represented in a way that satisfies them but I would argue that under a multi-member system they would have a better chance of being well represented. Not least because if one of their MPs did not do a good job they could try one of the others. Conservatives relish competition in most other areas. It seems slightly odd how opposed they are to that same competition when it comes to the political sphere.

One other minor point, most advocates of STV do not suggest seat sizes of more than 6 MPs. Between 4 and 6 is the optimal amount. I just raise this because you lead with an example of between 10 and 12 which is basically double what would be likely to happen and is therefore potentially a bit misleading.

AV is indeed not proportional. I have heard a number of Tories using this as an argument against a "Yes" vote. However as you well know the Tories refused a vote on a proportional system. AV is a compromise which ensures a fairer result in each individual constituency and avoids the situation at the moment where nearly 2/3rds of all MPs (in the 2010 election) got in with less than 50% of the vote in their seat.

AV+ is a bit more proportional as you state but that was also not on the table from the Tories.

Your final point is just plain wrong. There is no reason why under STV the central parties should have more control over who is selected. That is entirely down to the way the selections are made. They could be similar to now with local parties choosing their candidate(s). It could be instead through open primaries or other mechnanisms that allow local people greater control over the candidates. Also, because each party is likely to be fielding multiple candidates to maximise their vote across the constituency there is a built in incentive to field a diverse range of candidates which should lead to more women and ethnic minority candidates standing.

No electoral system is perfect but most proponents of STV think that it is the least worst system available and that FPTP is just about the worst worst! AV is an improvement on the status quo. FPTP has all sorts of problems which I expect will be highlighted during the coming campaign.

Peter Ruddick said...

I have to disagree here - there is no firm way STV is to be administered - why must we have 10-12 reps per constituency - it could be a lot smaller. Plus there is no reason to change the way candidates are selected so there is no reason the central parties will have more control either - both AV+ and AMS would confuse the system, create two tiers of MPs and give central parties more and too much power. STV if drawn up correctly can work very well - in NI for the Assembly STV is used so no matter whether you identify yourself as nationalist, republican, catholic, protestant there is someone who will share your views - granted there is less need for this across the whole of the UK but if you vote Labour and end up with a Tory MP or vice versa there are times you will simply choose not to approach them because of their party - STV would change that, increase participation and strenghtne the constituency link.

All academic anyway as STV won't be happening for a while alas.

Cantstandcant said...

Iain, among the many problems with your argument:

Exactly who is advocating Westminster STV with 8, 10 or 12 MPs a constituency? Answer: no one that I am aware of. Sensible norm is 4 or 5 like in Ireland.

Your claim that no one will know their MP under STV is part of the wonderful Westminster make believe. it relies on the theory that everyone or large numbers do now - which is sadly very doubtful. A recent poll I saw had significant numbers in London not knowing who the city's Mayor is -
even after the publicity Boris has had. So why do you really think everyone in, say, North Norfolk has Norman Lamb's name tripping off their tongue?

I am not aware of any evidence from Ireland or the Scottish
local elections that people have less idea who their TD or
councillor is. If you have it, let's see it!

And please don't so casually dismiss the 'horses for
courses' argument about having a choice of MPs to go to.
If I was a Tory in a constituency with an MP hostile to my issue or general views wouldn't I rather see one of the 4 or
5 MPs for, say, North Derbyshire - rather than have a
choice of 1 that might be Dennis Skinner? 'MPs represent everyone' - oh, yea?

Dan Sullivan said...

Iain, STV does not weaken the constituency link and if you're ever over in Dublin I'd be happy to try and sit you down with some Irish TDs to explain how it works in practice rather than in theory.

Chrisco said...

Ian, instead of hypothesizing why not look at places where they have STV. I'd venture that more people in Ireland can name at least 1 of their TDs than Brits can name their MP. Why? Because during elections and between them visibility on a personal, not a party, level is crucial for a TD to fend off a challenger from within their own party; consequently their ugly mugs are plastered everywhere.

Or if you want to keep it in the UK it would be easy to conduct a survey of peopele in Northern Ireland and people in Scotland and see in which place more could name at least one of their MLAs/MSPs. My money's on the Irish.

Instead of putting up hypothetical straw men (a 12-seat constituency, pardon me but WTF?), why not look at real life?

Tom said...

I find that the myth that AV is proportional is usually perpetuated by those who are against it (as they did around the time when the coalition deal was drafted): http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2010/05/daniel-kawczynski-mp-any-referendum-on-changing-the-electoral-system-should-be-subject-to-a-threshol.html

The real question is of course whether AV is better than FPTP, not whether AV is the perfect voting system. I find it interesting that the very things which are often cited as strengths in the FPTP system - that it allows the voters to kick out unpopular government for example - are often cited as weaknesses of the AV system. There is a lot of inconsistency from all sides.

Regarding STV and the Constituency link, is it not the case that in Ireland politicians have repeatedly tried to get rid of STV because it makes their job at getting elected more difficult? Isn't that a good deal for the voter? Though actually, I'd advocate STV on the basis of historic counties, with different arrangements for metropolitan areas, so the problem you describe would likely not come about. There is no need for the constituencies to have an equal number of MPs, nor, in those areas where multi-member constituencies could cause problems (such as rural Scotland), is there a reason for the constituency to elect more than one representative.

chris said...

So say I have an extremely religious MP who takes up positions that I am diametrically opposed to, doesn't have a constituency office as they don't seem keen on actually talking to any constituents, am I then to be effectively disenfranchised till there is another election? why wouldnt it be better for my area to have two or three MPs, some of whom might at least vaguely agree with my positions?

Are you honestly suggesting that I might not be able to work out who I might possibly agree with out of two or three local candidates? that seems a somewhat patronising view of the electorate.

Nic said...

Hi, Iain.
There wouldn't be 10 or 12MP constituencies but 3/4 constituencies where a candidate needs to get 25% or 20% of the electorate in their constituency behind them.

There may be no single MP but isn't that a good thing. I don't know anyone who supports one single party completely. Most people support different aspects of the manifestos. If you can only elect one MP then you are not likely to get your view of the way the country will be run and i agree that is impossible under any electoral system unless we vote on single policies.
If you have a vote where a person you voted for can actually be elected even in a safe seat, thats a good thing is it not?

You can have 3MPs of 3 different parties - you can go to whichever you voted for and if you think another local MP might vote against it - you can try to persuade that MP. With STV, each party has to put up several candidates meaning that that the candidates are accountable not just the party. In my seat, Labour could probably put a rosette on a monkey and it would still win and tbh, i think thats what they've done.

I also think its wrong for us not to be able to choose our PM directly. I would prefer Cameron to be PM but a lab/lib government/majority in parliament but i can't vote for that. Our PM is not directly accountable. He is only really accountable to his constituency.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Completely agree with you. Indeed if we think that a proportional (so called fair) system is desirable and I think this is still debatable then in my view three principles should be adhered to.

1) As you say a single member per constituency is essential. People will genuinely be confused and loose touch with their representatives when there is a choice of 4 or 6 that they can refer to in a much larger area. I really have no idea who my MEP is.

2) Each person should only have a single vote. None of this I vote for the BNP first but they have no chance so I get a second bite of the cherry at Labour and again they don't get in so I have a third chance voting for a Lib Dem. ONE PERSON ONE VOTE should be the mantra. The is why I will not be voting for AV.

3) Each person should vote directly for a candidate. None of these party lists where the party apparatchiks decide who is top of the list and you vote for a party.

Given those principles the proportional system that would work would be first past the post with a proportional top up. This would be based on a proportion of all votes cast and then allocated to runner up candidates in constituencies where these candidates received most votes. So if more Lib Dems were need to top-up and a Lib Dem came second in a constituency and s/he had the most number of votes then they would also be elected.

Constituencies would have to be cut down and made slightly larger but not as large as for STV. I would also be in favour of the 5% minimum number of votes to cut out loony candidates.

EyeSeeSound said...

The trouble is, that in 3, 6, 8, 10 or 12 member constituencies no one would really know who their MP is, just in the same way that no one now knows who their MEP is.


Er, how do you know this? Have you tested everyone's intellectual capacity in the whole country and ascertained we're all morons? Or are you just using typically sweeping assumptions to validate a flimsy argument with pseudosmarts?

I detest nobs like you making comments like this, though more for believing them.

GROW UP!

Kevin said...

you should see the system we have up here in Scotland for the Scottish Parliament - we have a list system

so your chances of getting elected depend totally on how much you grease up to the party elite

it also means it does not matter how bad you are at your job as an MSP - if you are favoured by the party big wigs then you will always get elected

which of course has 2 main outcomes.

1. there are MSP's that simply cannot be got rid off. once elected they are effectively there for life. so as long as they keep their fingers out the till they are unaccountable to the electorate

2. you dont get mavericks. everyone does as they are told by the party elite. otherwise come the next election you will find yourself right at the bottom of the party list and likely to loose your seat

of course this system was designed by Donald Dewar and his labour cronies to make sure that Labour never lost power and became an elected dictatorship - so i was always dsappointed Donald was not around to see Alec Salamond beat labour last time. i dont have much time for the Scots Nats but it was wonderful to see the smile knocked off of scottish labours face.

still doesnt help though with the fact some MSP's are virtually unsackable.

isn't democracy wonderful ?

James said...

Half-right, I think, Iain: it weakens the **geographical** link — but as a lifelong Tory/UKIP voter who lives in an SNP seat and works in a Labour one, I really don't agree with your implicit assumption about the importance of this "link". I for one would far, far rather be represented by someone who actually shares at least some of my views, rather than someone notionally "local" (when he's not living in Westminster, 500 miles away!) who opposes me!

Cantstandcant said...

Iain I also think it would be helpful if could explain how STV would put more power in the hands of the party machine than now, since it beats me. Really don't think you can continue to make wild assertions like that without offering some evidence. Damages your credibility for one thing. Can you back it up please with examples of how it has where it is used, or even develop your argument a bit!

trevorsden said...

"What's more having multiple MPs working in the same area will improve the service provided to consitituents"

This is rubbish. A constituency big enough to accommodate 5 MPs (assuming a total of 110 super-constituencies) would be very large - A total population averaging 600,000+. Hardly 'local'.Such a seat in scotland (outside of Strathclyde region) would cover geographically half of scotland!

A 'constituency' of 600,000 people (not voters') is too large. A grouping current constituencies to make super constituencies might make sense to elect say 275 'Lords'.

Finally
The Jenkins Commission rejected STV ...
'A Single Transferable Vote system was considered by the commission, but rejected on the grounds that it would require massive constituencies of around 350,000 electors resulting in an oppressive degree of choice, (i.e. too many candidates to choose from.) Also, the counting of votes in STV is "incontestably opaque" and different counting systems can produce different results.

Just how are electors expected to sensibly choose between candidates when there might easily be 30 to 40 minimum to choose between? And in a by election there would be no vote to transfer - but 400,000 voters in a constituency covering half of Norfolk.

I favour a 2 round system with a run off between the top two [assuming no one gets 50%].

Daragh McDowell said...

I have to add my support to those who have pointed out that

a) 3-6 MPs is far more likely than 12
b) Anyone who thinks that we poor plebs couldn't possibly remember 4-5 public officials in our area is condescending in the extreme.
c) Once again - look at Ireland. The importance of first-preference votes AND a well of transfers to draw upon makes it vital for Irish TDs to cultivate strong constituency organisations and stay in touch with what's going on. The Poolbeg incinerator in Dublin South East has claimed many power politicians their seats...

Libertarian said...

Democracy will only happen when we directly elect the PM/Executive

We are then free to elect a constituency MP to really hold the executive to account and not to be a party HQ placed, whipped piece of lobby fodder which is all we are offered at the moment

Iain Dale said...

Cantstandcant, you have an appropriate name because what you have just written is pure cant.

Under virtually every form of STV and AV plus there is a list system in place. Getting on that list depends on how much you grease up to the central or regional party. In a multi member constituency that can determine whether you are at the top or bottom of the list. There are of course ways round this, but in Germany for example, I think I am right in saying that the central party controls who gets on those lists.

We hear a lot abour 'parachuting in'. That is actually quite difficult to do under our current system and where it does happen, it is pretty obvious it has happened. In a list system it can happen without it being obvious at all.

neil craig said...

"Nothing wrong with that, you may say, but I think it is a good thing that current MPs represent ALL their constituents"

So do they now. If I contact my MSP asking them to voice my opposition to war crimes & she is from a party that supports them how exactly does she represent me?

Supporters of parties who do well out of this always say how the constituency linkm is so much more important than the results represnting what people voted for but is there any evidence whatsoever that the public feel this way.

This explanation could be justified if central party control was weak enough that when a party 3 line whip said one thing & the MPs voters said the opposite the MP would side with their voters. I don't think anybody would suggest that happens in one case in 1,000. If the MPs have already given up the constituency link they can hardly ethicly use it to maintain a system which is otherwise wholly corrupt.

Curle said...

AV was tried in Pierce Co. Washington in '08 and was such a disaster it was ditched the following year and the public returned to a primary to general election system. Problems included:

1) the time required to fill out ballots and to compute results was nearly doubled leading to polling location troubles and delays in determining winners. Also, had there been a need for a recount rough estimates for one county alone were over $1 million in cost, an outrageous amount. How does one reliably recount an AV election?

2) It created a message vacuum. Rather than encouraging political discourse and the transmission of useful information (particularly useful negative information) because candidates were uncertain of where their second or third preferences would land. As a result, the county ended up with an Auditor who had a background that would have, under the previous system, been outed by his opponents but wasn't so exposed under AV due to fears of offending some second or third preference voter somewhere. Had this system not been binned immediately (the following year), it would, no doubt, have led to the expansion of proxy and shadow groups responsible for political messaging. Not a good result.

3) It disenfranchised voters. Though proponents argued it would increase voter involvement, in fact there was such a drop off in terms of persons actually placing second and third preference votes that the universe of persons deciding on the final two candidates was much smaller than the previous primary to general system.

This system has been tried and rejected. I hope the voters of the UK look at those jurisdictions like Pierce County Washington who learned the hard way.

gadfly said...

Constituency link?!

There is a growing disconnect between constituents and their MPs. We are no longer represented by these elected politicians, so the manner in which they get elected should no longer be our concern.
Besides, regardless of the arithmetic of the voting method, the calibre of the politicians who enter Parliament will be just the same.

Will Cooling said...

"1) the time required to fill out ballots and to compute results was nearly doubled leading to polling location troubles and delays in determining winners. Also, had there been a need for a recount rough estimates for one county alone were over $1 million in cost, an outrageous amount. How does one reliably recount an AV election?"

I can answer this based on personal experience.

The cruical thing about conducting any AV/STV count is that you keep the votes a candidate gains from each round of voting seperate. After each round you check that you have the correct number of votes and then you progress with the election. That way if a problem occurs with the counting of the votes in (say) round three then you only have to recount the transfers from round three not the entire election.

An AV election is no more complicated to count than a FPTP election. Immediately STV is very complicated and usually requires the use of computer software.

Cantstandcant said...

Iain - it worries me that you are writing about something you don't appear to understand. I am not advocating list systems (hate them actually) and I am not advocating AV or Av plus. I am talking about stv, the system in operation in Ireland which does not have a list system any more than Fptp. Stv is what your post supposedly is about and I'm defending it. So why do you persist in claiming it is something it isn't? Voters can choose which candidate they like most across and within parties- which is not a list system where a party chooses who should be elected first, second and so on. Please take up the kind offer from the
poster in Dublin before you write about this again!

Dan Sullivan said...

"Under virtually every form of STV and AV plus there is a list system in place."

the only two places using STV are Malta and Ireland. And in Ireland getting on the ballot for a party normally involves presenting yourself to a convention of party members, ordinary paid up members, the people who do most of the work for a party. I know, I've done it.

FF in that last local elections of 2009 moved to an interview system, FG, Labour, the Greens, SF all have party conventions. Does HQ try and exert influence? Yes, is it normally successful if the party membership are opposed? Not a hope.

Jimmy said...

So Irish TDs don't have strong enough constituency links? Ireland? We're talking about the same place? Small island just to your left? Seriously?

Curle said...

Thank you Will for your explanation re: recounts. Perhaps you are correct re: costs but the following from a report of the King County Elections Oversight Committee commenting on the experience of Pierce County implementing and administering Ranked Choice Voting is worth reading in this regard.
http://www.kingcounty.gov/council/issues/public_trust/citizen_election_oversite_committee.aspx

It is also perhaps instructive that of the handful (8 it appears) of American jurisdictions that instituted RCV in recent years, two, Burlington VT and Pierce County WA, have since repealed it. If the correct base is in fact 8, that means there has been a 25% reject rate among American jurisdictions who have tried it so far. Not an auspicious start and it strongly suggests that voters are finding things to dislike about the process.

However, the damage to the political process is the greatest danger. Proponents (see the above report) view the incentive to stop contrast politics as a good thing. I regard it as an indisputable negative. Campaigns have an incentive to veer towards 'Up With People' messaging with RCV/AV. A recipe for electoral banality.

Paul said...

Can we also get rid of this idea of AV giving people more than one vote being a change? At the moment how much a vote you have depends entirely on where you live - if you live in a safe seat you have much 'less' of a vote than if you live in a three way marginal. Anyone who says that everyone should have equal votes must surely be against a system of FPTP which inherinately gives different values to different votes.

Tom said...

Also Iain, I thought under STV the party has less control over candidate selection, as the electorate is free to choose a candidate from a number of competing people from one party. It'd be interesting to hear exactly how you think the Party would gain even more control under STV.

Tom said...

Where are these STV systems with Party lists? Are you confusing STV with something like De'hondt?

farneygirl said...

I'm from Ireland and my constituency is a 5 seater. I know the names of all my TDs (MPs... but in Irish) and I know what order I would potentially go to them with a problem, depending on what the problem is based on a)where they live b) what their views on the given issue is or c) their party as applicable.
As for them not having a strong enough link to their constituencies.... a lot of politicos over here complain that the link is too strong leadin to people being elected based on local rather than national, good-of-the-country issues.


I really fail to understand the English problem with STV. It's easy, it's the fairest system I've heard of... on the downside it would ruin the drama of British election nights slightly....

Forlornehope said...

Just pick MPs at random. You automatically get a fair gender, ethnic and sexual orientation representation - along with any other group you can think of. It costs a lot less and it cannot be any worse than the present lot. It would be really interesting to set up a parallel chamber and see how it worked in practice. You could be damn sure there'd have been neither a poll tax nor an Iraq war.

SadButMadLad said...

The only reason no one knows their MEP is because no one really cares about the EU. It's too distant.

As to whether STV (or AV or AV+) breaks the constituency link. Is there a constituency link in place at the moment. Current PPCs are flown in to areas where they have not been born and raised purely because they are a high flyer and are getting safe seat. I would argue that there is no constituency link in such cases. The high flyer, who is likely to be a career politician, cares more about their party and their rise up the greasy ladder than they care about their electorate.

Simon Gardner said...

These bizarre claims about constituency link have to be laid to rest. I have never had the slightest chance ever of influencing who my MP is. My MP has never been the slightest bit representative

Compare and contrast the considerably more representative Irish system with its constituency link.

And even more bizarre are your false claims about STV MPs or candidates being a tool of the party - completely the opposite of reality.

You really need to find out what you are talking about before shooting your mouth off.

Cantstandcant said...

I'm still waiting for Iain to apologise for getting his facts wrong and insulting me, given that he's big into apologies on another blog entry about the EU and eggs! But I might as well whistle in the wind.

Thanks to Simon and numerous others, including three I think in Ireland, for speaking up.

FF said...

Iain, a late entry here to correct a point you made in your comment of 3rd July. You said:

"Under virtually every form of STV and AV plus there is a list system in place. Getting on that list depends on how much you grease up to the central or regional party. In a multi member constituency that can determine whether you are at the top or bottom of the list."

Getting onto the list is indeed a party matter, but under STV, the voters get to choose which candidate is selected. One of the side effects of STV is that candidates spend as much effort competing against other candidates within the party as they do fighting their official opposition.

Take a hypothetical STV consitituency based on Luton. Labour, Conservatives and possibly Lib Dems are just about guaranteed one seat each. For the safe labour seat, consituents get to choose between Margaret "Dry Rot" Maran or honourable Kelvin Hopkins who claimed practically nothing off expenses.

The link between individual MPs and voters is far stronger under STV than FPTP.

I agree with you that AV is neither fish nor fowl. The consequences of coalition and compromise, I guess.