06 April 2005

Make my vote count

Just seen make my vote count, a campaign for PR, via the General Election blog

I was about to sign myself up to its petition, but I saw a (random) quote at the top of the page referring admiringly to the Jenkins Report.

The Jenkins Report was the stitch-up that came up with the absurd "AV Plus" voting system, one carefully tailored to change a two-party system into a three-party system while minimising the danger of allowing voters real choice. (This is the system that is used for the London Assembly).

That puts supporters of democracy in the age-old bind: support a measure (AV+), which, while an improvement on the status quo, falls short of what is needed, or persist with the indefensible in the hope that it improves the chances that the "right" answer will become available.

In most cases, a step in the right direction makes further steps easier (see this paper by Eugene Volokh). On this basis, I support incremental tax cuts, deregulation, "civil libertarian" freedoms, even if they fall far short of what I would like to see. But in this case there seems to me a danger that the adoption of AV+ would mark "end of debate" of our voting system. The chief enemy in the struggle is boredom: most people are not interested. To go through a campaign, a referendum, and a major electoral change, and then tell the bored masses "actually, this still isn't what we want, now let's change it again to STV", is to invite scorn and stubbornness.

I think I will probably have to support MMVC anyway. If it gets any momentum it will bore people whether it succeeds or fails, so it might as well succeed. There's still the chance of getting a better system than AV+ into the debate, and most importantly, I don't see any other realistic strategy for getting to STV.

Related previous articles:

Protest Votes and Fringe Parties
Bypassing Grassroots
Electoral Metaphysics

No comments: