19 April 2010

Recall petitions

Voting systems used to fascinate me. I miss caring about which PR system was fairer more than I miss believing that the government worked for me.

That's pretty much gone, now, but I just had a thought about the Conservatives' plans for introducing recall of MPs.

I was wondering whether they had taken into account the small number of people necessary to elect an MP. Luton South is a 4-way contest, so 30-35% of the vote may well win it. If turnout is around 40%, then the winning total may be no more than 12% of the electorate. So finding any way of demonstrating that even a newly-elected MP has the confidence of his constituents won't be easy.

It turns out that the Tory plan is that a petition of 10% of the electorate forces a by-election. I think I can safely predict that there won't be a single MP in the house that 10% of the electorate wouldn't want to get rid of, so the only obstacle to getting a by-election anywhere in the country is being organised enough to collect the signatures.

Any existing research on how easy it is to get signatures is probably worthless, because existing petitions are a complete waste of everybody's time. This is the sort of thing where people are getting very much more efficient.

I wouldn't be surprised if the recall plan led to every week being a by-election week. Should be a laugh.

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