Year 12 Politics students present their arguments 'for' and 'against' the Alternative Vote (AV) system in preparation for the mock referendum for staff and Sixth Formers on 4th May...
Year 12 Politics students present their arguments 'for' and 'against' the Alternative Vote (AV) system in preparation for the mock referendum for staff and Sixth Formers on 4th May, prior to the country's vote on 5th May
What is the referendum about?
At the moment, the UK uses the voting system 'First Past the Post' to elect MPs. Voters mark an 'X' next to their preferred candidate. The candidate with the most votes in each constituency (voting district) is elected.
The referendum asks if we should change to the 'Alternative Vote' (AV). Instead of marking an 'X', voters rank candidates in order of preference (1, 2, 3 etc). If no candidate receives more than 50% of first preference votes, the last placed candidate is eliminated and their second preference votes redistributed among those remaining. This process continues until a candidate has 50% support.
Here, the two sides put their views...
The recent expenses scandal showed how broken British politics has become. The current voting system is closely linked to this. It is outdated, unfair and in desperate need of replacement. It allows many MPs in 'safe seats' to ignore their constituents for five years, safe in the knowledge that they will be re-elected when the next election cycle comes round. These MPs have jobs for life - so comfortable that many of them chose to abuse the expenses system. It is about time our MPs worked harder for us. By changing the system to AV, your MP will have to gain the support of at least 50% of voters in your constituency - not a third or less as at present. They will have to work harder to reach out beyond their core support. The myths spread by AV's opponents need to be dispelled - it wouldn't be expensive to bring in, or necessarily lead to more coalitions. Everybody still gets one vote. What is more, AV is already used for a variety of elections in the UK - actually it is the most common system. It is about time our MPs were made more accountable to us - the voters. Let's have a system that our democracy can be proud of. Vote YES to AV.
First Past the Post has a track record of producing strong and stable governments. It usually provides a clear winner, also getting rid of tired governments lacking in new ideas. It is simple and widely understood. AV will threaten this stability. It will lead to near permanent coalition governments, where two or more parties compromise on their election pledges and leave voters feeling let down. Under AV, some people's votes - especially those who vote for extremist parties - will be counted more than others. Some people now supporting AV used to say it was a "miserable little compromise" - because really they favour an even bigger change to the voting system. Also, at a difficult time for our economy, we need to ask ourselves if we really want to spend millions of pounds on an unnecessary change to the way we elect MPs. Only three other countries in the world use AV - and one of them is in the process of getting rid of it. AV has been rejected by many as inappropriate for electing a parliament. Let's knock this idea on the head and stick with what we know works. Vote NO to AV