Is AV better than FPTP?

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Saturday 23 April 2011 10.14am
I've been noticing all the palaver about the AV vote and the various campaigns etc and been quite surprised at all the confusing messages about what it involves, whether it is a good idea and such like.

After some serious googling, I came across this blog written by a mathematician (don't be put off by that!) that I thought did the business.

Anyway, given all the contradictory bumf out there, I thought it might be useful for anybody who is as yet undecided what or whether to vote in respect of the AV referendum:

Is AV better than FPTP?

Only thing is that it is very long so takes some patience. Other than that, it's certainly great ammo for the next time the topic comes up in the pub, whatever your opinion on the subject
Saturday 23 April 2011 10.17am
It's simple for me really - I want to have my vote counted and my vote to count.
Saturday 23 April 2011 11.06am
Several leaflets have dropped through the letterbox for and against AV with 'celebrities' endorsing one side or the other. Personally I never come to a major decision without checking what Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Kriss Akabsi and their ilk have to say. Must check what Jordan or Jedwards position is before coming to a final decision.
Saturday 23 April 2011 11.40am
Thanks for the link - I was going to vote Yes, because I decided I wanted to do my bit to annoy Cameron more than Clegg.* It's good to know that the decision I made for petty reasons is also the right one psephologically.**

* After all, Clegg is going to be pretty bloody upset by every local and bye-election for the next four years anyway.

** Psephology.
Saturday 23 April 2011 8.41pm
I would say it is not, when you're electing hundreds of people to form a Parliament. It may be, when you're electing one person, like a President or a party leader. I will be voting accordingly.

In SE1, it's particularly dishonest of the Yessers to be claiming the main benefit of AV is to make MPs work harder. Apart from probably not being true in general, it's particularly hard to see how it's true in a Lib Dem seat - where AV make Simon's position much more secure than it is under FPTP.
Sunday 24 April 2011 8.59am
One way of judging the issue is to look at the negative campaigning, and as far as I can see, the anti-AV camp is being disingenuous (i.e. lying through their teeth) in the reasons they give for saying we should vote "No" to AV.
Sunday 24 April 2011 1.00pm
You're out with 6 other mates trying to decide which movie to go see. There are 3 options: x, y and z.

3 of you want to see a x, 2 of you want to see y and 2 of you want to see z. Those who want to go see y and z definitely don't want to see x because its too violent.

Under FPTP you all go to see x because it "won" even though the larger group of people are unhappy with the choice.

Under AV you'd go to see the film that the greatest number of the group agreed was worth seeing (y or z) but it wouldn't be x. The greatest number of people are satisfied with the outcome.

On a different day you're out with the same mates. There are 3 films again, x, y and z.

This time 4 people want to see x, 2 want to see y and one wants to see z.

Under FPTP you go see film x.
Under AV you go see film x.

Unfortunately this about running the country and not seeing films though I suspect many people will put more time and thought into which film to see than which electoral system to use. The Aussies seem ok with AV and god knows they're great in sports...

Your call...
Sunday 24 April 2011 9.24pm
Eric wrote:
The Aussies seem ok with AV

Apparently they would prefer FPTP:

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/poll-shows-support-for-electoral-reform-20101015-16mks.html
Sunday 24 April 2011 9.44pm
Neil wrote:
Eric wrote:
The Aussies seem ok with AV

Apparently they would prefer FPTP:

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/poll-shows-support-for-electoral-reform-20101015-16mks.html

I guess we're all going to see movie x then, even if more of us don't want to than do.

I think the poll question you cite may be slightly misleading but I don't know enough about the poll. Here's why:

In Oz there are 2 types of AV. The first is used (from what I've read) in federal elections and in this system a voter *has* to rank all candidates in order of preference. I can see this as being annoying because its rare that you research every last candidate before voting but for your vote to count , you have to rank all the candidates. I can understand that people may feel, *!*& that, lets just have FPTP.
The second type of AV voting in Oz is the type that is being proposed in the UK. You only rank the candidates you care about. If you want, you can vote for only 1 candidate. Or if there are 2 candidates you would prefer you can rank them 1, 2. I can see this giving this type of poll the 60-40ish split that is cited.
Just to round things out here are a few other places where AV voting is used:
From Wikipedia wrote:
Instant runoff voting is used to elect... the President of Ireland the national parliament of Papua New Guinea, and the House of Representatives of Fiji. It is also used in Irish by-elections and for electing hereditary peers for the British House of Lords.
IRV is employed by several jurisdictions in the United States, including San Francisco Oakland, California, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota

It is used to elect the leaders of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom and the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in a national primary and in the elections of city mayors in a number of countries including the UK (in the variant known as Supplementary Vote) and New Zealand.

Many private associations also use IRV, including the Hugo Awards for science fiction and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in selection of the Oscar for best picture.]
Tuesday 26 April 2011 9.40am
I dont think it's easy to speculate on why a poll shows that Australians prefer FPTP to AV - there could be many different reasons. I dont think it's even particularly relevant, I just raised it to counter your assertion that they were fine with AV.

Personally AV probably suits me better than FPTP as I have never (yet!) managed to vote for a candidate that came in the top 2 in a general election and I wouldnt mind the option of having a direct say in who actually won. Whether AV will have a beneficial impact on Parliament and our system of government is much harder to say. But it's hardly a radical reform of the system so I doubt it will do huge damage, I'll vote out of a sense of obligation but not very enthusiastically, probably for yes but I'm not sure yet.
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