Tuesday, May 03, 2005

General election blog roundup 22

We're finally into the home straight, everyone's bored rigid, but we've still got a nice general election blog roundup for you.

If you happen to be American and have got all confused by this shoddy attempt at democracy in the country that pretty much invented the concept of parliament, you could do worse than check out this overview from Diderot's Lounge:

"Imagine a election system in which the incumbent leader’s party places third, with 30% of the vote or less, but that party is returned to power with an absolute majority of seats in Parliament--and the first-place party wins barely one-eighth of the seats.

"This can happen—not in Putin’s Russia, Khamenei’s Iran, or Faure’s Togo, but in Blair’s Britain."
Britain: it's like Florida, but without the sunshine and oranges and alligators and stuff. There's more from the Lounge here which is also worth a look.

Oh, and lest I forget, you really should read Manic's handy reminder of all the lies, incomptetence and spin.

4 Comments:

Blogger Bishop Hill said...

Question: Are the boundary commissioners politically neutral? Are they competent? For the system to have failed to keep up with population changes in such a fashion seems, well, a bit surprising.

5/03/2005 11:02:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Their website's here if you want to try to find out more.

From what I can gatehr, the basic problem is that it's a massive, complex and expensive exercise to re-arrange constituency boundaries, and it can only really be done after a census - which only come once every ten years (the last being in 2001) and then take a few years to analyse properly.

There's been a massive shift in population densities over the last 20-30 years (depopulation in the formerly industrial north, commuter migration from suburbs to countryside, and repopulation of formerly run-down inner cities etc.) but it's rarely possible to tell how long-term such trends may be. Re-arranging boundaries for 10 years for a migration trend which lasts only a couple of years could be even worse.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't, in other words. Which is yet another reason why some kind of Proportional Representation could be much better. It means we'd lose our local representatives in parliament, and the risk that the BNP may get an MP would be greatly increased, but a hell of a lot of other problems would be sorted out instantly.

5/03/2005 11:15:00 am  
Blogger Jarndyce said...

PR wouldn't necessarily mean losing the local representation. Only a totally pure, clolsed-list system would do that. See the system in e.g. Denmark for an interesting alternative. There are plenty of others that keep local representation, allow voters to 'kick the bastards out' periodically and produce much, much fairer outcomes.

5/03/2005 04:59:00 pm  
Blogger Bishop Hill said...

You would have thought that it would be possible to feed the electoral register into a computer program with a few simple rules to allocate wards to constituencies.

Call me a cynic but there does seem to be a lot of patronage to dish out judging by the extraordinary number of assistant commissioners that seem to be necessary under the present arrangements. This is presumably why the system is the way it is.

Personally speaking I like FPTP. The arrangements we have here for the Scottish Parliament have killed any interest I had in any sort of list system. Our local MSP was caught fiddling his expenses but his party suffered no consequences - they just pick the next name off the list.

5/04/2005 03:46:00 pm  

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