AV Referendum: A Decision On Democracy

First past the post is a bad system.

In my eyes anyway. I feel the need to say that, considering the following.

FPTP is a system that is only truly democratic in a two-party race, such as in the United States. Anywhere else, where a third party is involved to a larger degree, it ends up skewing results in favor of larger contenders, to detriment of the democracy.

Democracy is about the will of the people. All it takes is a quick look at the Lib Dems election history over the last thirty or so years to see it: consistently between 17 to 25% of the vote, with less than 10% of the seats.

Sorry, that’s undefendable. That is the very picture of a broken, unfair system, and I say that as someone who isn’t especially fond of the Lib Dems.

The argument here is that a portion of democracy must be sacrificed in order to achieve a stable government. Leaving aside the fact that coalition does not automatically equal instability (it has become the norm in so many countries after all), it doesn’t matter. The will and decision of the people, is their decision. If they want one-party government, they’ll vote for one party. If they want coalition, they’ll vote a third into a higher position. You really think all those Lib Dem voters thought they could get an overall majority in the last UK election? They were voting for a coalition. Labour and the Conservatives failed to make their individual cases.

You either accept that democracy means having a chamber represetning the peoples decision at the time of an election, or you accept that you aren’t entirely interested in what the people really think, just the ones who support the larger party. Essentially, FPTP promotes the idea that “government knows best” and can overrule the choice of the people.

It’s a very simple choice: Do you want more democracy and more coalition governments, or less democracy and more single-party governments? The choice comes down to whether you accept or dismiss coalitions as viable.

I accept them, because governments can and have functioned under them. It’s a simple matter of parties making them work. If they don’t, the people will change their minds, as they almost did with Fine Gael in the March General Election.

I imagine though, that Britain will reject AV. With that, it will be difficult for me to defend such an electorate, one that openly chooses to have their voice lowered in volume.

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