May
07
2011

Alternative voting goes down in flames in UK.

The basic system in the United Kingdom is what’s known as ‘first past the post:’ essentially, whoever has a plurality of votes wins.  Plurality wins are in fact somewhat typical results in parliamentary systems, given that parliamentary systems tend to spawn viable third and fourth parties like rotten meat was once believed to have spawned flies*; but it can be a problem when one side of the ideological spectrum is fragmented among several different parties, and the other is not.  This is the situation in England right now, in fact; which is why the Liberal Democrats (who are the junior partners in a coalition government with the Conservatives**) were pushing an alternative voting scheme where you could indicate second and third choices, until somebody hit the 50%+1 vote mark.

As the PJ Tatler noted, the goal here for the British Left was to keep their fragmentation while eliminating the bad effects from it: presumably, the ability to reassign votes in divided elections would give Leftist candidates a better chance of actually winning seats.  Alas, the vote went against the Liberal Democrats 2-1; partially because the Conservatives were naturally opposed to the notion… and partially because apparently the Labour party was not entirely in favor of it, either.

As you might have guessed, I prefer the restrictive straitjacket of a two-party system – which is a not-nice way of saying that I favor a simple, straightforward method of electing people.  It’s been my experience that the vast majority of people who want to ‘reform’ our current federal, first-past-the-post, we-have-two-mainstream-alternatives-so-pick-one method of doing things are generally ideologues.  Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being an ideologue: I’m one myself.  But if your ideology – or the ideology of your faction/party – isn’t succeeding in the marketplace of popular opinion, well, perhaps sometimes it’s not because the blind fools can’t recognize your genius.

We will now pause for people to assure us that in their case it’s all because of those who would hold them back; but they’ll show them!  They’ll SHOW THEM ALL!!!!!

…Or something like that.

(Via Instapundit)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*You may safely guess my opinion of third parties from my choice of metaphor.

**It made sense at the time.

 

 

5 Comments

  • Canthros says:

    Ah, there’s something I haven’t had to read since I stopped reading Slashdot, ca. 2006: discussion of alternative voting schemes, none of which offer any appreciable advantage unless you have a graduate degree in mathematics–and were deeply upset that a vote for Ralph Nader helped elect George W. Bush.

    (I exaggerate, of course. You don’t need a graduate degree. An undergraduate degree is probably more than sufficient.)

  • Canthros says:

    Not a complaint, FWIW. Just an observation that the above brought to mind.

  • Jinx says:

    There were good reasons to vote for the change – such as that it would more accurately reflect what people felt about political parties (we don’t USUALLY have the visceral hatred for the other party which seems to characterise a lot of American politics) and would force politicians to try and broaden their appeal beyond their core constitunency.

    There were good reasons to vote against. Such as the fact that it would strengthen smaller more idealogical parties, making coalition goverments hostage to their more radical partners more likely with obvious effects on political stability.

    None of which was mentioned by the for and against campaign, which had all the political passion and ability to gain the public attention as stale bong water.

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