Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Is AV the portal to a different dimension?

Ok, very short one.

After speaking to many people on various networking sites about AV, the same argument keeps coming up again and again.

"This MP only got 40% of the vote and still won, that means that 60% voted against him, under AV people cannot steal elections".

This is pretty much the range of arguments, in the same family, that i have encountered.

I am in no way saying this is the official line of 'Yes to Fairer Votes' or even that it is used by anyone but their most 'dragging of knuckles' supporters, but it is there.

So let's discuss a few of the points.

The MP got elected with 40% of the vote...that is pretty high, from an election where perhaps 6-8 people ran, to get 40% of all votes is pretty good. Then factor in the tactical vote working against them which seems to fluctuate depending on what is most useful for the critics of my points. I however will use the same percentage I always have 9%. So even if the MP won by 1 vote, he didn't really win by 1 vote.

Pushers of this point also seem to forget that no matter what trash they throw at the MP for winning on 40%, the runner up is only going to come off worse as they didn't even manage to get that. So who exactly have they stole the election from?

Now, to get on to the title of the blog piece.

I am starting to get the impression that proponents of AV are expecting that if and when AV is introduced, a whole new wave of MPs will rise out of the ground or pop through a worm hole and will be able to please 50%+1 of everyone.

What they seem to forget is one (a lot of the MPs on close to 50% will be elected again), the 40% person is most likely to be re-elected, but this time with 50%+.

Is this a magic trick?? Or has he just announced free unicorns to every voter in a Nick Cleggish way?

No, he is just as popular as ever but the 'looks better on paper' system of AV makes it LOOK like he got more support. Please bare that in mind next time you talk about AV increasing the popularity of the elected MP.

5 is 5% of 100, and 50% of 10. You can change percentages quite easily by condensing the available pool.


  1. What? So you're saying you can make 40% sound like a lot more by ignoring the other 60? "Look, it would have been 100 if all those pesky democrats hadn't voted"?

    40% may be quite good in a large field, but it's not an actual majority, is it? And 28%, with which it would be perfectly possible to be elected under FPTP isn't even good by the longest stretch of the imagination. I always thought the point of democracy was to get a government that represents the people. If most people if the constituency are against you, how can you claim to represent them?

    I've not met anyone who's claiming that AV would get rid of all the MPs on 40% of the vote. What it would do is give those who got reelected an actual mandate.

  2. In your last sentence you have encapsulated my point.

    The same mps will be re-elected. But instead of 40% they will have a bigger percent. But with no extra support.

    I.e all the people claiming that AV will lead to mps that represent people more seem to be under the illusion that this voting system will change support...which is not true. Just the vote counting.

  3. Some of the same MPs will be elected. Some won't. That's democracy. A Yes vote isn't a vote to replace all the MPs in the House. It's a vote give the public a greater say over who represents them. I don't see how you can think that's a bad thing?

  4. AV can be less representive than Fptp.. - ERS
    So claims that AV means more support for each elected candidate disagree with your of backers opinion

  5. AV can be less representative in purely proportional sense than FPTP. But you'd have to be bonkers to try and defend FPTP for its proportionality. In an individual constituency AV is undeniably more representative. And, as far as I know, the ERS have always advocated AV for single member constituencies.

    I'm not quite sure why you'd think it important that I disagree with some people in the Yes campaign. Of course I do. Some of us see AV as an end point, some of us would like to see a further step to STV. God, some of us vote UKIP. What's important is that we all know AV to be more democratic than FPTP.