The two party system – with discussion

April 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm (cartoon, politics) (, , , , , , )

5th may: referendum in the UK about reforming our “two party” first-past-the-post voting system.

There is much discussion about whether to vote yes, or no.  Most of it focusses on the short term impact – how seats won would change in the new system if people kept their voting habits.  This misses the point.  More astute observers note that whether people support “yes” or “no” depends on how their preferred party will benefit.  This is true, but somewhat beside the point – we should choose a system that gives the best outcome, not the one that favours us.

An important, and somewhat overlooked implication is that the Alternative Vote (AV) system would allow people to vote honestly.  This means that candidates can be ranked by the order an individual wants.  This is not true in the current “First Past the Post” (FPTP) system, where many people are forced to vote tactically.  If you want your vote to count, you have to pick your favoured option from the two candidates you predict to do best.  This prediction leads to a very nasty feedback – the two leading options in public opinion (usually the top two from the last vote) get a disproportionate share of the vote.  This is bad for the system in general because votes do not correspond to public opinion.  The more we can tell the politicians about what we want, the better they can represent us. So we should prefer a voting system that allows us to be honest.

Even worse, it leads to political lock in – the parties who did best in the past will do best in the future, irrespective of their policy. This permits leading parties to interpret a vote for them as a support for their policies, when in fact most voters may disagree with the majority of such policies.  (Though more than the competing party…)  This lets policies with little public support be pushed through… the Iraq war being seen as “supported” due to Labour’s re-election is one example of this, as is the Tory University reform.

(As a side point, AV may result in increased participation in voting.  If you know that your vote will be counted, even if it not for one of the major parties, then you are more likely to bother.)

That is why I’ll be voting “yes”.

PS No doubt the AV system will have its own problems, but the current system seems unjustifiably broken to me.  I’d particularly welcome comments explaining how FPTP is not broken in the sense above.

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The two party system

February 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm (cartoon, politics) (, , , , , , )

5th may: referendum in the UK about reforming our “two party” first-past-the-post voting system.

It is about more than personalities: it is about having a real choice.

NB: Inspired by making the decision Cake or death? when the cake is a lie.  Of course, it will still be politics and the cake will still be a lie, but we might hope for a slightly more appealing specials board.

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March 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm (cartoon) (, , , )

Police reported three dozen cheerful bystanders, yet no one claims to have seen who did it.

Police reported three dozen cheerful bystanders, yet no one claims to have seen who did it.

This is today’s XKCD comic 🙂

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January 29, 2009 at 11:48 pm (cartoon) (, , )

It was that or say "tm" afterwards.  Now that would not have been cool.

It was that or say "tm" afterwards. Now that would not have been cool.

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A bit like stealing…

August 3, 2008 at 11:23 pm (cartoon) (, , , , , , )

… but not very much.

Its either the downloading or the analogy that is wrong here...

Its either the downloading or the analogy that is wrong here...

Authors note: Not only does this discuss the very important contempory issue of chocolate versus any other ice cream, it also has pirates who are ninjas.

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Vegetarianism around the world

July 24, 2008 at 11:30 pm (cartoon, Humour) (, , )

Based on nearly actual experiences....

Based on nearly actual experiences....

Blotworst: Blood sausage (missing umlauts!)

Schinken:  Ham

Fische: Fish

Chorizo: A type of ham

Pescado: Also fish

Vegi burger: Apparently in the US they sometimes use animal fats to cook everything in burger chains…

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July 19, 2008 at 11:43 pm (cartoon) (, , )

Sometimes it helps to get some perspective.

Sometimes it helps to get some perspective.

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I think therefore I am….

July 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm (cartoon)

Sometimes thinking too much gets me into trouble....

Sometimes thinking too much gets me into trouble....

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