Sunday, May 16, 2010

Coalition Government and Possible Electoral Reform Breakthrough in the UK

Fair Vote Canada

The May 6 election in the UK produced a familiar result for Canadians: no party won a majority of seats. But unlike Canada, two parties – the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – have formed a coalition government committed to providing stable effective government based on a negotiated package of policies. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called their coalition an intentional effort to develop a new style of politics.

The coalition platform includes a pledge to hold a binding referendum – with a simple majority threshold – on the Alternative Vote (AV) system, sometimes called Instant Run-off Voting (IRV). Unfortunately AV, like first-past-the-post, is a winner-take-all voting system that does not deliver fair and proportional results (see FVC backgrounder). However, the fact that Britain is now governed by a coalition that agreed to act on electoral reform may provide a model for Canada. The coalition agreement also commits to developing a proportional voting system to elect some or all of the House of Lords.

“While we're disappointed the Liberal Democrats backed down at this time on their demand for proportional representation, these are dramatic developments with significant implications for Canadian reformers,” said FVC President Bronwen Bruch. “First, we saw the British MPs' spending scandal ignite a national debate on electoral reform and proportional representation – a debate that carried through the election. And now we see a new generation of British party leaders from both sides of the spectrum deciding it's good politics to lead, rather than impede, electoral reform. This all happened relatively quickly. Our challenge in Canada is to find a way to make it happen here and to make proportional voting reform a front-burner issue for the next election.”

Bruch invited FVC members and supporters to join the lively discussions and exchange ideas on the Fair Vote Canada Facebook fan page, and for those who are not yet members to join Fair Vote Canada and help build our movement.

No comments:

Post a Comment