Monday, March 24, 2008

More on voting systems

So voting systems are being reviewed then? I'd disagree with a few parts of Paul Anderson's latest post on electoral reform. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm 'pro-AV' (I've never been able to stay awake for all of the pro and anti arguments), but it does seem to me that it favours a more conversational type of politics.

He takes us on a trot through how previous elections would have panned out with an AV system in place. But he neglects one important factor: In saying...
"...when Liberal and Social Democratic Party voters generally saw the Tories as less bad than Labour, it would almost certainly have given Margaret Thatcher even more commanding majorities than she actually won."
As far as 'parliamentary majorities' was concerned, this may have been the case. But she would never have been able to muster a Thatcherite majority in the first place. I'm still not sure whether the ability of a political party to assert itself in the way that Mrs T did is always a bad thing anyway ... but I digress.

He says that ...
"... yielding a House of Commons that more accurately reflects the spread of party support across the country – which should surely be the goal of any change to the electoral system.."
Why should this be the case? The question of the desirability of 'proportionality' in government is a minefield, and not one that lends itself to such declarations. But I've not seen any evidence that it results in better policy-making.

And surely the focus on 'party support' compounds the unhealthy domination of policy-making by political parties? In resisting AV, isn't Paul arguing for more political tribalism (and control-freakery that follows with it)?

And if so, is this in the public interest - or the interest the political left? I'd argue that it is neither.

But my main disagreement with Paul is that voting systems should be decided on the basis of what makes for a better quality of representative democracy. I've posted previously with ten tests that I'd apply to any electoral reform.

Paul doesn't seem that bothered about the 'compulsory voting' proposition. I am. Elections shouldn't be decided by the people who care least, or the least decisive. We'd all be better off if they stayed at home. And Paul's framing of the question - 'but is it good for The Left'? I'd argue that any improvement on the quality of representative democracy is always good for the left, even if it doesn't directly translate into short-term tribal advantages for Labour.

I'd even go so far as to say that lefties would achieve more if they shut up about how left-wing they are and concentrated instead upon improving upon representative democracy. But, again, I digress....

1 comment:

Alan in Belfast said...

> Elections shouldn't be decided by the people who care least, or the least decisive. We'd all be better off if they stayed at home.

Well, we'd all be better off if they were tickled into being more engaged and came out to vote in line with their thinking?

It feels a bit big brother - and prone to mischief - to force people to vote if they don't want to - or believe that it's wrong.

Perhaps elected representatives should be paid in proportion to the turnout in their constituency. If only 50% of people registered to vote turn out to cast/spoit their ballot, then they should only get 50% of their salary. That would put the burden on politicians to make politics real to potential voters.