Electoral reform: make your voice heard

#1
19 May 2005

Today we are asking you, our readers, to sign up to The Independent's Campaign for Democracy, which aims to persuade the Government to reform our unfair electoral system. The response to this campaign, launched after this month's general election, has been extraordinarily positive. We have been inundated with letters of support. And as our survey this week demonstrated, public opinion in Britain is now broadly in favour of some form of proportional representation being introduced into the Westminster elections. It emerged that 62 per cent of the British public disagree with Downing Street's recent assertion that there is no appetite for reform of the current system.


Now we are giving you the chance to make your case directly to the Government. If you are in favour of making the composition of the House of Commons more representative of the way the country casts its votes, fill out the form below and send it to us. We will then collate the list of names and deliver it to Downing Street - together with the hundreds of letters received calling for reform.

Add your voice to the campaign for electoral reform

Those who would defend the status quo have had ample opportunity to make their case over the past two weeks - and indeed have done so. But our campaign has demonstrated that the arguments against proportional representation are tenuous at best. There is simply no reason why a PR system would inevitably result in an unstable coalition government, as the experience of many continental European nations attests. The single transferable vote system functions perfectly well in Ireland. Austria has the alternative vote.

And, indeed, we already have PR in some elections in Britain. We elect UK members to the European Parliament on the basis of a party list and we use the additional member system to decide the constitution of the Scottish and Welsh assemblies. The authoritative and wide-ranging 1998 report by the late Lord Jenkins laid out how a system of PR could be introduced into our democracy. All that is lacking is the political will. What we are recommending is not a leap into the dark, but a modification that has been tested - and that we can be confident will work.

And the truth is that our present system is emphatically not working. The pitiful turnout in all constituencies two weeks ago - except where there was a real chance of unseating a candidate - shows that the health of our democracy is at a lower ebb than it has been for some considerable time. The fact that the Labour Party was able to claim a majority with just 36 per cent of the popular vote, and 22 per cent of the electorate, ought to serve as a warning that our democracy cannot continue to stagger on unreformed.

The momentum for incorporating PR into Britain's electoral system is growing. The intellectual case is strong. The practical instruments are in place. What we need now is to put pressure on the Prime Minister to force his hand. Tony Blair, as he starts his third term in office, is understood to be concerned about his legacy. What better way for him to seal his place in history than by leaving Britain with a more equitable system of democracy? Help us make electoral reform a reality by joining our campaign.
Independent
 
#2
Dear Agent_Smith!

As Russian citizen I haven't right to discuss the matter though I'm very interesting in the result of the discussion.

What is your personal opinion?
 
#3
I am appauld at the blatant unfairness of the voting system.

We need to bring in Proportional representation (at least some form of PR) and re-map the constituency borders to make them fair for all parties rather than just those that aim for the urban votes.

A_S
 
#4
Smoke & mirrors. Show me a country with PR that is a model of peace, prosperity, good order, and happiness, which is what these pro-PR people seem to be promising.
The three examples quoted above, Scottish/Welsh assemblies and the EU Parliament don't exactly fall into any of these categories.

KISS - keep it simple stupid!

Agree on the boundary thing though.
 
#5
Agent_Smith said:
I am appauld at the blatant unfairness of the voting system.

We need to bring in Proportional representation (at least some form of PR) and re-map the constituency borders to make them fair for all parties rather than just those that aim for the urban votes.

A_S
Until recently there was mixed 50/50 system in Russia (as in Germany). But new law introduced pure PR system with 7% threshold.

Btw, it was seen as 'undemocratic move' by the West

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4305677.stm

"In Russia changes in parliamentary election laws and a shift to the appointment, instead of election, of regional governors further strengthened the power of the executive branch," the report says.
Introducing of pure PR in the UK would be a costless gift to mr.Putin. Even wide discussion in the UK about PR system would give him an excellent argument. He could say that the oldest democracy is moving in the same direction.
 
#6
hup-two-three said:
Smoke & mirrors. Show me a country with PR that is a model of peace, prosperity, good order, and happiness, which is what these pro-PR people seem to be promising.
The three examples quoted above, Scottish/Welsh assemblies and the EU Parliament don't exactly fall into any of these categories.

KISS - keep it simple stupid!

Agree on the boundary thing though.
The scottish system is a sort of halfway house between first past the post and PR. It seems to work ok.

How can the current system be fair when there was only 2 or 3 % of the vote between 1st and 2nd, and yet that equates to about a 60 seat majority for labour?

What about in cases where 49% of a constituencies voters vote for party A and the other 51% for party B? In the current system, party B get COMPLETE power for that consituency, effectively ignoring the views of 49% of the voters.

Not exactly fair.
 
#7
Why bother? With postal voting you can have as many votes as you like! Unless of course you happen to be serving abroad with HMF and nobody tells you that the rules have changed, so you have NO vote. Plus ca change . . .
 

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