by Steve Beasant on 18 February, 2011
In May voters will get the chance to choose a fairer voting system – the Alternative Vote. It’s a small change that will make a big difference.
The new voting system will keep what is best about our current system – the link between an MP serving their local constituency – but strengthens it by making MPs work harder to get elected and giving voters more of a say.
This is because, with AV, MPs would now have to aim to get more than 50% of the vote, and so will have to work harder and represent more of their constituents.
The AV system will change this. It will keep what is best about our current system – the link between an MP serving their local constituency, and the likelihood of decisive election results – and strengthens it by making MPs work harder to get and keep their jobs by giving voters more of a say.
Here are 10 good reasons for supporting AV. Click on your favourite ones to send them out on Twitter:
MPs need to secure a real majority of voters to be sure of winning, not just the 1 in 3 who can currently hand them power. They’ll need to work harder to get – and keep – their jobs.
The expenses scandal showed how deeply out of touch some of our politicians became from the people who elect them. It arose from a culture where some MPs have ‘seats for life, and leads to poor service, complacency and taking voters for granted.
Forget tactical voting – just pick the candidate you really want to win. But if your favourite doesn’t win you can still have a say.
Too many MPs have ‘safe’ seats for life. We saw that in the expenses crisis. The AV system will change this.
AV builds on the current system, eliminating many of its weaknesses, retaining its strengths and strengthening the link between MPs and their communities. Voters still have just one vote.
AV is the anti-extremist system because candidates have to secure a real majority to be sure of winning. First Past the post enables candidates to win with a very small percentage of the vote, which means extremist parties such as the British National Party have more chance of being elected despite most people in an area opposing them. This is one of the reasons why the BNP is opposing AV.
Forget tactical voting- just pick the candidate you really want to win. With AV you can back just one candidate (like now), or if you’d like to, state a second choice, or even a third choice. Voters can vote for what they really want so there is no need to vote tactically.
Less than 2% of voters decided the last election. To be sure of winning a seat with AV, candidates will have to get over 50% of the votes in that area. They will have to work harder and not just take us for granted.
First Past the Post has created a culture of complacency whereby most MPs know they can just rely on their core vote. AV rewards politicians who can reach out to a widest range of voters. Politicians will need to engage more constructively with more people if they want to be sure of winning.
Alternative Vote (AV) is a widely used and trusted system in Britain outside public elections, because it is used by businesses, charities, trade unions and membership organisations
MPs have been deciding their own rules for far too long. This is the first time that voters are being given a say on the system we should use to elect MPs. This is our chance to have a public debate and to demand more from our democracy.