From the TUC

Electoral reform: How would you do it?

15 Jan 2010, by in Politics

Electoral system rosettes

As you’ll know if you’ve already had a look through our latest ToUChstone Extra pamphlet, “Getting it in proportion?”, there are as many electoral systems out there as there are elections. But which to choose?

Well to help, we’ve made a clever little test. Give it your opinion on a list of statements about the way you’d like elections to be handled, and it will recommend those of our main 5 systems that most closely match your preferences.

Try it out now, and see how you might handle electoral reform.

8 Responses to Electoral reform: How would you do it?

  1. Tweets that mention Electoral reform: How would you do it? | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC —
    Jan 16th 2010, 3:33 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ToUChstone blog, Pete Berry. Pete Berry said: What kind of reformed electoral system do you want? Take TUC quiz and find out (Turns out 1st past post 4 me.) […]

  2. Brad Beattie
    Jan 17th 2010, 6:24 pm

    Strange that this test told me I’d prefer STV, when I strongly prefer Schulze STV. One of the questions on said test was “I don’t want to have to bother with tactical voting”. There’s certainly an element of that in standard STV.

    I’ve thrown together an example of Schulze STV at so you can see how it works. The source code is also available if you’re curious as to its implementation.

  3. ToUChstoneblog

    John Wood
    Jan 20th 2010, 9:20 am

    Thanks for the link Brad – a nicely put together demo. That’s a proper geek’s system! ;)

  4. Stephen Johnson
    Mar 5th 2010, 9:40 am

    Each electoral system in your test has significant, even serious, disadvantages. This why we still have the unfair and undemocratic FPTP system.

    Unfortunately you don’t have the best voting system – Direct Party and Representation Voting (DPR) in your test.

    A majority wants PR with all the simplicity of FPTP and none of the disadvantages of the other systems.

    With DPR you get

    1 Single member constituencies
    2 No party lists
    3 One vote for the Candidate, one vote for the government.
    4 Simple one cross voting
    5 Simple and quick to count
    6 Simple to understand
    7 PR at Westminster
    8 Very little change needed to our existing voting system

    It tick the boxes!

    Each party gets the voting strength in Parliament that reflects its overall support in the country. Multi-member constituencies and party lists are neither necessary nor desirable.

    Direct Party and Representation Voting (DPR) delivers all this – see – the way forward.

  5. Brad Beattie
    Mar 5th 2010, 4:01 pm

    I see a few problems with DPR. My understanding is that it’s basically MMP, but each regional MP holds a fractional vote instead of having the additional PR seats.

    1. It’s possible that a party could receive upwards to 15% of the national vote but not win any regional riding. See the Green Party in Canada as an example of this.

    2. Riding sizes fluctuate over time and some end up having easily twice as many as another. If two disproportionate ridings go to the same party, their MPs would effectively hold equal power instead of power representative of their respective populations.

    It’s an interesting system to consider, but the field of collective decision making has no panacea and it’s disingenuous to pass any one system off as perfect.

  6. Stephen Johnson
    Mar 5th 2010, 4:52 pm

    Dear Brad,

    1 You are correct that in theory that under DPR a party could win a share of the national vote but no representatives. This could happen where the party vote was low in percentage terms, very evenly distributed across the country, and the party had no outstanding candidates. This is a barrier to small parties inherent in the system.
    In practice small parties often have at least one outstanding charismatic individual who, with this system, could get elected in the constituency/riding vote. This is because having exercised your national vote for your choice of government, you might consider casting your representative vote for the outstanding candidate, rather than a mediocre party representative.

    2 I am not sure I understand your point here, perhaps because I am not familiar with the Canadian system. If each representative has one vote, isn’t this similarly unfair?
    However the power of the vote does not really lie in the individual vote, but rather in the collective exercise of all the party’s votes. The total of the party’s votes will reflect their strength/success in the election across the country as a whole.

    There is still a case for redrawing riding boundaries from time to time.

    I hope you will not dismiss this system too quickly. I confess that I am more familiar with the UK General Election than the Canadian system, but I am interested if you think you have spotted a flaw. Thanks for your comments.

    Perfect may be unachievable, but DPR ticks all the boxes.

  7. Brad
    Mar 5th 2010, 5:35 pm

    2. If party members always vote along party lines, then this isn’t an issue. However, MPs are elected individually and shouldn’t be penalized for voting on their own. If an MP represents 60k people, they have half as much voting power as other MPs of the same party that represent 30k people.

    1. So this system effectively eliminates independent MPs. That’s quite the flaw in this system you propose. Also, the system relies on FPTP in each riding. Some of the negative effects of this system are not mitigated by DPR.

    “Perfect may be unachievable, but DPR ticks all the boxes.”

    Ticks all the boxes is another way of saying perfect. If you see no flaws in your system (or see those flaws as merits in disguise) you’re not looking close enough. I’ve seen this cognitive bias from most Range Voting advocates. Don’t really know how to address this overreaching optimism though.

    I don’t mean to be excessively contrary; Your system is certainly better than plain FPTP. :)

  8. Stephen Johnson
    Mar 5th 2010, 6:24 pm

    Dear Brad,

    2 The interesting thing is that DPR does encourage both the election of independent minded MPs and also Independent MPs. The flaw you see is best mitigated by redrawing the boundaries of the constituency. It makes no sense to have such disproportionate sized constituencies, and the way to address it is via the boundaries commission.

    1 I don’t know which particular negative aspects of FPTP you have in mind.
    The things FPTP has in common with DPR , are
    It is very simple to vote, quick and easy to count, and everyone understands it.
    Single member constituencies mean there is a closer connection between the MP and his/her constituency. Constituencies are smaller, cheaper, easier to campaign in.
    (If you favour party lists or multimember constituencies, that is a discussion in itself)

    On reflection in DPR the most popular candidate has the best chance of getting elected. In other PR systems it may be the least disliked candidate that has the best chance.

    However DPR differs from FPTP in that
    It delivers Proportional Representation Governments
    Every vote counts.
    It encourages the election of the outstanding candidate
    It makes voting out an unsatisfactory representative much more likely
    It encourages more independent minded MPs, and gets rid of ‘safe seats’,

    Let me know where you disagree or a box you would like to see ticked..