For those confused by the many arguments being bandied around over the merits or otherwise of the Alternative Vote, the Political Studies Association have just released a short, and relatively easy to understand, briefing document on the pros and cons of the Alternative Vote.
It’s written by Alan Renwick, of the University of Reading, with advice from a large number of other academics. It’s especially good on myth busting, noting that many of the claims made both by the Yes and No camps are over-played. For example:
AV would uphold the principle of ‘one person, one vote’. Every voter would still be treated equally; each vote would count only once in deciding who is elected in each constituency.
AV would not eliminate safe seats, though it will probably reduce their number.
Other conclusions include:
AV would probably not change turnout at elections. Nor is it likely to change significantly the number of spoilt ballots.
AV is unlikely to change the structure of the party system fundamentally. But it is likely to increase the Lib Dems’ seat share somewhat, at the expense of the other main parties.
AV would probably make coalition governments slightly more frequent (but changes in how people vote mean coalitions are already becoming more likely under FPTP).
AV would probably sometimes exaggerate landslides.
Minor parties under AV would probably win more votes, but not more seats. AV would be likely to increase the bargaining power of some minor parties, but not of extremists such as the BNP. It did not help Australia’s One Nation party.
AV would be unlikely to increase the number of women or ethnic minority MPs.
AV would be unlikely significantly to change the standards of MPs’ behaviour or the relationship between MPs and voters. It might make some MPs focus more on constituency work – which might or might not be desirable.