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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alternative Vote and the Apathy Party

If AV is a controversial step, what about tackling non-participation? The last four UK General Elections have also been the lowest in terms of turnout since World War II, according to this site:

Statistically, there appears to be only a slight negative correlation between the size of turnout and the size of the winner's majority, as witness the 2010 results:


... but the British system is full of idiosyncrasies. A constituency in the Western Isles, or Northern Ireland, or one of the industrial blightlands, is not going to have the same characteristics as one in Hampshire, Slough or Greater London. And apathy can be confused with despair: in a rock-solid safe seat, those who would vote against the incumbent if they had a chance of unseating him/her, may simply not bother to vote at all.

Why not insist that everone must vote - perhaps adding the option "none of the above" to the ballot form?

Australia has a system of compulsory and enforced participation in General Elections, and so does Singapore; among European countries where it is compulsory but not strictly enforced, are Belgium and (for Senate elections) France.

South America (which I think will have a very interesting and possibly bright history over the next century) has many countries where voters must take part. Using the information here, I give below a map of them:

Let's start with AV, and if that doesn't winkle the people out of their sofas, let's go where so many other countries have led the way. Who knows, we may one day have a democracy.

5 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

No I don't like idea of compulsory voting.

I always vote, because not to do so is an insult for previous generations who had to fight for the right (even if I cast a wasted vote in a safe seat), but I can understand why a lot of people don't bother.

It's quite possible that the AV referendum will produce a 'Yes' on a laughably low turnout, simply because electoral reform people are more enthusiastic about AV than FPTP supporters are enthusiastic about FPTP, in which case I would be the last to complain about the low turnout :-)

Paddington said...

I believe that Russia allows a vote against a candidate. Enough of those, and that person is banned from eligibility for a period.

Sackerson said...

I thought you were going to say "Enough of those, and lots of people will suddenly disappear."

James Higham said...

I always vote, because not to do so is an insult for previous generations who had to fight for the right

All right, all right, I'll vote, I'll vote. Was going to stay in bed.

Anonymous said...

"The last four UK General Elections have also been the lowest in terms of turnout since World War II,"

That would be because even though the politicians hold the general population in contempt, the general population isn't so stupid that they can't figure out they are being taken for a ride.

There ain't much point voting for someone if the decisions are made elsewhere.

"compulsory voting"

No, but if we are to be hearded to the poling booth then there should be a 'none of the above' option.

FPTP system is transparent. It maintains the link between the constituency and MP.

If the system needs to be fixed, simply introducing open primaries and the power of recall would address it's shortcomings.

Having said that. I asked my wife if she knew the difference between FPTP and AV (she was swivering in favor of the AV campaign, she admitted she didn't know. Her argument for changing was 'it's modern'.