'Is AV really so complex? Or is it just confusion marketing?' blog discussion

edited 19 April 2011 at 11:04AM in Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News
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  • rhyskirhyski Forumite
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    the Political Studies Association has stated that a “yes” vote would probably make further electoral system change later on more likely.
  • rhyskirhyski Forumite
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    also, imagine (for the purposes of argument) there were 6 candidates in total, 5 independent left-wing candidates with 15 votes each and one right-wing candidate with 25 votes.

    Under FPTP the right wing candidate would win, with 25 votes, even though 75 votes did not want them to win.

    Under AV this would not have happened, as the left wing voters would be able to support each others candidate in order of preference.
  • edited 19 April 2011 at 4:46PM
    jamesdjamesd Forumite
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    edited 19 April 2011 at 4:46PM
    AV is very simple:

    At the local level you have more chance of unseating an incumbent.
    At the national level you have more chance of coalition governments because it favours least disliked candidates and helps to create more minority held seats.

    At the local level you get a chance at more accountability.
    At a national level the parties get to tear up their manifesto commitments and blame their coalition partners, so you get less accountability. And national is where the high stakes are.

    So for me it's very simple: if I like the current coalition and want to have more coalition governments I should vote yes to AV, if I don't I should vote no.

    So in a way it's a simple referendum on whether the parties in the current government are looking accountable to their pre-election undertakings. The answer to that seems pretty clear so my voting choice is very easy. It's very convenient to have such a convenient example of what AV means to study before having to vote on accepting it or not.

    The yes to AV publicity at the moment seems to be focusing on the local increase in accountability (the least disliked candidates will win, instead of the most liked, unless the most liked has a large majority) while trying to ignore the decreased national accountability. That seems like a very wise strategy for the yes campaign to follow.

    The Conservative party members who oppose AV have some small practical difficulty: its members can hardly argue against AV on the basis that the current situation leaves them unable to keep to their manifesto commitments. :)
  • Robability wrote: »
    See I'm not convinced, in my head the strength of the argument is diminished as soon as talk starts of a "right" and "wrong" person to win. I understand the spoiler effect, but think its relevant only if a candidate is a bad loser.

    I see what you mean about talking about the wrong candidate (I didn't say right, and that's significant). More or less popular would be better. If A would beat B in a head to head election, can we agree that A is more popular than B? AV doesn't always elect the most popular candidate (and there isn't always one anyway), but if someone who would have won under FPTP loses under AV, it's a good bet that they were less popular than the AV winner.

    I don't quite know what you mean about bad losers though.
    Robability wrote: »
    In the scenario above, more people want Duckhouse to win than any other single candidate. I'm fine that he wins, even though I may not support him.

    I said that both of the two other candidates are more popular than Duckhouse.
    Robability wrote: »
    No I don't care what the result would be, I care about getting the vote in the first place. I think the chances of even getting a future referendum are lessened by a Yes vote, and that is what matters to me.
    Well the way the polls are going, I hope you're right! I fear though that you are not.
  • ndallndall Forumite
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    Declaring an interest: I support AV.

    Neither campaign is particularly inspiring to be honest, but I agree AV is not complicated. From a voter's point of view, you just rank the candidates in order of preference. As easy as 1, 2, 3. The counting isn't that complicated, but you don't even really need to worry about that. Just know that if your first choice can't win, your vote transfers to your second choice. If your second choice is out of the race, your vote transfers to your number 3.

    One criticism of AV is that someone's second choice shouldn't count the same as someone else's first choice. Certainly a point worth debating there. But the corresponding criticism of the current system is that unless you vote for one of the top two candidates, your vote doesn't count at all.

    Martin's point about the results is spot on. Under the current system the person that the largest minority like most can be elected. Under AV, the person that the largest minority like a lot can still win, but a majority of people have to like them at least a bit. Often the same person will win under both systems, but sometimes, when there is a divisive figure that say 30% of people want but most other people hate, that person won't win under AV. It's why people say under AV politicians have to win broader appeal, rather than just the strong support of their "core vote". You may think that's good or bad.

    It's not really true to say Lib Dems will be the only ones who get second preferences, especially now they're less popular. There are so many more choices of who to vote for these days. Lib Dem, UKIP, Green, Scottish & Welsh Nationalists, independents. All of these parties and more have representatives in some parliament or assembly, and this system may give more of them a chance in Westminster. Money savers should know more competition tends to result in a better deal for consumers. My view is that having a system that props up two old parties and shuts out competition from others leads to stale politics which offer limited new ideas, and ultimately a bad deal for voters.

    But if AV gives smaller parties a voice, what about extremist parties? Well it gives smaller parties a look in as long as they have a broader level of at least second or third preference support. You can imagine quite a few people might put Green or SNP or whatever as their first, second or third preference. In a handful of seats they might do better than the older parties. Like the Greens, the BNP are also a few people's first choice. But aside from their minority support most people strongly disapprove of the BNP and will rank them very low or won't give them a preference. That's precisely sort of party that can't win under AV. Parties usually need to get 50% of people voting them 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

    For those who want true PR. Fine. But that's not the choice right now, and it's only by a rare FPTP electoral accident that you have this chance to break open the old system. You need to choose which is better out of FPTP and AV. Be aware that if the result is No, the most politicians are not going to say "Oh, we asked the wrong question, we should have another referendum for full PR". They will say "Good, people don't want change. We can stick with the system that, after all, got us elected". It will kill voting reform for years.
  • So the 5 "left-wing" canditates were essentially interchangable on the issues so it doesn't matter which one of them wins so long as the "right-wing" one doesn't?

    Doesn't seem very good to me. It is not because of a misunderstanding on my part that I don't like AV in principle.. but this is deviating from the point.
  • rhyskirhyski Forumite
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    jamesd wrote: »
    AV is very simple:

    At the local level you have more chance of unseating an incumbent.
    At the national level you have more chance of coalition governments because it favours least disliked candidates and helps to create more minority held seats.

    At the local level you get a chance at more accountability.
    At a national level the parties get to tear up their manifesto commitments and blame their coalition partners, so you get less accountability. And national is where the high stakes are.

    So for me it's very simple: if I like the current coalition and want to have more coalition governments I should vote yes to AV, if I don't I should vote no.

    So in a way it's a simple referendum on whether the parties in the current government are looking accountable to their pre-election undertakings. The answer to that seems pretty clear so my voting choice is very easy. It's very convenient to have such a convenient example of what AV means to study before having to vote on accepting it or not.

    The yes to AV publicity at the moment seems to be focusing on the local increase in accountability (the least disliked candidates will win, instead of the most liked, unless the most liked has a large majority) while trying to ignore the decreased national accountability. That seems like a very wise strategy for the yes campaign to follow.

    The Conservative party members who oppose AV have some small practical difficulty: its members can hardly argue against AV on the basis that the current situation leaves them unable to keep to their manifesto commitments. :)


    but coalition governments are more likely nowadays, because of the way people are voting - hence the reason we are in a coalition which happened under FPTP.

    This should not be a vote for or against coalitions, as these will become more common no matter what the result is. This should be a vote about what the fairest way to elect members of parliament within a constituency.


    Also The Institute for Public Policy Research have an extremely in-depth analysis of "whether AV is the right alternative".

    Their Conclusion
    The simplest and strongest case for AV is that, unlike FPTP, it is well suited to the times we live in. FPTP is a system designed for an age of political tribalism which no longer exists. Voters today have a looser and more dynamic sense of political affiliation than they did in the past – they don’t see ‘politics in such black and white terms’. FPTP fails to accommodate this change, whereas AV goes with the grain of contemporary British political culture. It promotes voter choice and empowers the electorate in a world defined by stronger political pluralism.

    The full 32 page analysis is available to download if anyone is interested
  • nomoneytodaynomoneytoday Forumite
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    michaels wrote: »
    Suppose we have a 40% turnout of whom 51% vote in favour - that represents about 20% of the electorate - is that enough to make the change valid?

    Yes. And it gives the other 60% absolutely no right to complain if they don't like the outcome :)
  • jamesd wrote: »
    AV is very simple:

    At the local level you have more chance of unseating an incumbent.
    At the national level you have more chance of coalition governments because it favours least disliked candidates and helps to create more minority held seats.

    At the local level you get a chance at more accountability.
    At a national level the parties get to tear up their manifesto commitments and blame their coalition partners, so you get less accountability. And national is where the high stakes are.

    I hadn't really thought about it that way, thanks :-)

    Of course it only makes sense if it's true that AV will give you more coalitions, some people say it will, some people say it won't. Even if we do change, and do see more coalitions, then it will be hard to know if that was because of the change. Voting for someone other than the Labour or Conservative candidate has become more common without changing the voting system.

    There is a BBC article entitled "Would the alternative vote have changed history?" [Can't create links, sorry] which suggests that in the past we'd have seen bigger landslides under AV, not more balanced parliaments. It makes sense in a way, fewer safe seats means more can change hands!
  • AzariAzari Forumite
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    thelawnet wrote: »
    It's only not complicated because you are a supporter of it.

    No, it's not complicated because it's not complicated.

    Unless you happen to be an idiot.
    There are two types of people in the world: Those that can extrapolate information.
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