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Reforming the electoral system

There's been a lot in the news today about Brown's plans to discuss reforming our voting system, and if the result of this is that we end up with something more along the lines of proportional representation then this has to be a good thing in my opinion.

However, as far as I can tell, most forms of PR that might be implemented would focus on making the number of MPs in government proportional to the vote, which to me is a step in the right direction, but this wouldn't make the actual power proportional to the vote, as we have a system where all the positions of power are generally held by the ruling party.

At the moment it seems unclear what the purpose of an individual vote is. Are you voting for the MP who will represent your views in parlament, the party you want to govern the country or the person you want as prime minister? I would say that the system is setup for the former, but most people use it for the latter. You just have to look at the arguments about whether Brown has been democratically elected to the position of PM to see the level of confusion here, and, yes although he has gained the position fairly under the current system, it seems somewhat undemocratic that a PM should be replaced only by a vote from the ruling party.

<wishful thinking>

I would personally, like to see this changed so that not only were government elected by some form of PR, but that also the leader of the party with the most votes didn't automatically gain the position of prime minister and the power to give all the other positions of power to his/her mates.

Personally, I would prefer to see these positions elected by the whole government from within their numbers, so for example, when Blair stood down rather than having just the labour party vote for the next prime minister, it would have been the whole government and would have excluded any members of the labour party who didn't have a seat.

If the make up of government represented the views of the people, then so would the make up of the cabinet, because they would have been elected by our representatives. It would also help even out the power distribution between the ruling and opposing parties and help clarify that the purpose of the elections is to appoint your representative(s) in government rather than the cabinet.

</wishful thinking>


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
10th Jun, 2009 12:16 (UTC)
from what I can tell, I like and agree with your ideas :o)
10th Jun, 2009 13:47 (UTC)
You've reminded me of all I learnt (and have since forgotten) about the various voting systems that can be used when I was at college. Whilst PR seems like a good model, I'm sure there are fundamental flaws in it which I can't comment on. I'm going to go and find out what I'm talking about so I can make a vaguely relevant contribution. :P
10th Jun, 2009 17:18 (UTC)
Of course their are flaws, as 4zumanga highlights below there is the issue of voting for a party rather than an representative MP, also given that it would include the likes of the BNP some people would be uncomfortable with the minority parties getting greater potential for gaining seats.
(Deleted comment)
10th Jun, 2009 17:16 (UTC)
I want to be able to vote for a person to represent me, rather than a party.

Interesting point, but overall I think I'd prefer that the minority viewpoints were represented in parliament (and I know that would potentially include the BNP who I disagree with entirely, but if enough of the population agree with them they should be there).

what's to stop the Labour Party having it's own private vote on who it wants to be PM internally

This is what happens with a lot of policy voting. Personally, I feel very uncomfortable that our system of government seems very reliant on whips and spin doctors. Although I can't see how you could get rid of the later, I would certainly want the former abolished asap.
10th Jun, 2009 22:06 (UTC)
Never mind the EU referendum we were promised in 2005. I'm still waiting...
13th Jun, 2009 09:31 (UTC)
Experience is that PR produces very weak coalition governments where a small, unrepresentative party, ends up holding a vast share of the power because they hold the swing votes on the coalition.

In short it tends to end up less democratic. I like first past the post.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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