The Alternate Vote

In Defence Of AV

(This was written and prepared by a good friend of mine, Blue_Swirl. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to politics, since unlike me, he actually has views and opinions!)

This is just a quick post to address what I perceive to be the one of the main arguments of the No To AV campaigns. To use their own ham-fisted analogy, the runner who finishes in second gets the medal.

What I thought I’d do, then, would be to demonstrate what would happen under First Past the Post and Alternative Vote in two situations. In the first, one party has more than 50% of the vote, and in the second, no party has 50%.

Scenario 1: One Party has more than 50%

Here you can see an election for which Party A, B, C and D is standing. Let’s see what would happen under each voting system.

First Past the Post

Party A has more than 50% of the vote. Party A wins.

Alternative Vote

Party A has more than 50% of the vote. Party A wins.

Scenario 2: No Party has more than 50%

Here’s the same election, but with different results. What happens under each system?

First Past the Post

No party has a clear win. Now, the parties enter into talks behind closed doors, making deals, making promises to each other, changing their election pledges, trying to form a coalition to get that 50% that they need. The people have no say in this. It’s up to the parties alone. Will Party A join with B? Or C? Even D would give them enough votes to take power. What will Party B say to get power? Will they change the promises they made to us? Again, the people have no say.

Look at the situation we’re in now. As far as I know, the Conservatives got approximately one third of the vote. They formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. For whatever reason, the LibDems have broken many of their election promises. What have we ended up with? A government for which only one in three voted for, a party that’s destroyed their reputation, and a lot of angry people. What ever your political leanings, you have to agree, this isn’t a great place for us to be in. It’s not really democratic, is it?

Alternative Vote

Under AV, in this situation, we would look at the second choice of people who voted for Party D. Assuming they all didn’t put Party A, we might end up with something like this


Still no clear winner. Lets look at the second choice of people who voted Party C. If that second choice turns out to be Party D, who’ve been removed from the running, we look at their third choice, and so on. We might end up with something like this:


Party B has just won, even though after the first round of counting they were in second. But it’s more likely that we’d get something like this:


This is how we’ve ended up with the No To AV campaign’s idea that the person in second would “win the race”. Sliding gently past the broken analogy, let’s look at what really happened.

There was no clear winner, as no party had 50%. (I.e. no one had won the race, it wasn’t over yet!) So we looked at the second and third choices of the voters, we looked at what the people wanted. No deals behind closed doors, no coalitions decided by the parties, no government formed by a party that got 33% of the vote.

In short, when we get a situation like we did after the last general election, we the people decide how to break the dead lock. Us. Not them. Remember, we elect them. We are their bosses, not the other way around. Under AV we would have got one clear winner, not a coalition.

To use the race analogy so favoured by the No To AV campaign, under First Past the Post, it’s perfectly reasonable to give the gold medal to the guy that ran half way around the track and fell over wheezing, just because he ran further than the other guys.

Don’t fall prey to the scaremongering. Vote Yes to AV.

Please distribute this as far as you can – tweet it, email it, post links in your blog! Download a .pdf here. Print it out and leave it in your place of work! Feel free to edit and redistribute! Attribution would be nice, but not required.


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