On referendums

The Spectator’s Alex Massie recently wrote: The only thing that has been proved by this referendum on changing the electoral system used for Westminster elections is that referendums are a hopeless way of deciding these matters. Neither the politicians nor the press have distinguished themselves during an affair that’s been distinguished by the mendacity of almost all the protagonists, the hysteria of partisans on both sides and the sheer quantity of lumpen stupidity on display. It has not been an edifying or comforting process. The rest of his post continues in the same vein, as he points out the failings of both the Yes and No camp – the Yes campaign being “dire”, the No campaign “ridiculous”. I share Massie’s […]

More AV links for the interested

(Are you looking for information on how voting works under AV? Please see this post.) A very detailed post tackling the question “Is AV better than FPTP?” by a Cambridge University maths professor. Well worth reading, even if you’ve already decided to vote Yes. Definitely worth reading if you’re still undecided and probably should be read if you’re planning to vote No: Consider first what it means if you get five bites of the cherry. It means that your first-choice party is eliminated, and your second-choice party, and your third-choice party, and your fourth-choice party. Compare that with the poor old voter who gets just one bite of the cherry. Their party is either the party that wins or the […]

More AV-related links for readers

1. Australian elections expert Antony Green has an excellent blog post addressing the oft-heard claim by anti-AV types that under AV, some voters’ votes will count more than others. This is false, of course – everyone gets one ballot and one ballot only. The difference is that some voters’ ballot will be transferred to another candidate if their first choice is eliminated in one round of counting. As Green notes: At the end of an AV count, there is no change to the number of ballot papers or to the values of the ballot papers. Each of them remains one vote. All that happens in an AV count is that the counting system converts the contest from a multi-candidate contest into […]

AV, FPTP and hung parliaments

I can only assume that growing interest in the referendum on AV in the UK explains why this older post of mine is getting so much interest these days. In that post, AV does not cause hung parliaments, I was trying to counter one of the NO2AV side’s favourite anti-AV arguments: that adopting AV would lead to an increase in hung parliaments and coalition government. The point I tried to make in my post was that it isn’t the voting system per se that causes hung parliaments, but the fact that more and more people are abandoning the two traditional main parties, Labour and the Conservatives, and voting for other parties instead. Since WWII, the vote share of both of […]

A follow-up to my AV in Canada post

In this post, I pondered what might happen if the 2008 general election in Canada had been held using the Alternative Vote rather than First-Past-the-Post.* Not being a statistician, I could only speculate that there were potentially 80 ridings that potentially might have had different outcomes under AV. The number probably wouldn’t have been quite that high, but many ridings resulted in very close three-way races, or very close two-way races with none of the candidates very close to 50%. A friend and fellow blogger, Mijopo, has taken the raw data Elections Canada makes available to researchers and concocted a simulation of the 2008 election run under AV. He concludes that 19 seats would have been won by a different […]

Strange bedfellows

The referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) heated up even more today as the party heavyweights took to different stages to argue the case for and against abandoning FPTP. At one event for the NO side, Prime Minister David Cameron paired up with former Labour heavy-weight and cabinet minister John Reid, while at a separate event for the Yes side, Labour leader Ed Miliband shared the stage with Coalition Government cabinet minister and Liberal Democrat Vince Cable. For Canadian readers not as familiar with the ins and outs of UK politics, this would be akin to Stephen Harper sharing the stage with Sheila Copps, and Jack Layton in common cause with Bob Rae. The Labour leader-Lib Dem cabinet minister pairing […]