Given, the chaos that we have seen in the UK during then Brexit crisis, there are good reasons to look at different voting methods around the world. Having experienced the system used in presidential and some national elections in France, which also is used at times in some other countries, it may be useful to suggest how that might be applied in the UK and what would be the advantages and disadvantages. In particular, it is worth looking at the system of two rounds.
There are two types of system. The first is where the first round is used to eliminate all but the two best scores, unless one gains over 50% in the first round. Then two weeks later there is a run-off between the two candidates. The second method is where a bar is fixed – usually 12.5% in the French system – below which any candidate is eliminated. Let us look at et the first system and examine the obvious advantages.:
- We are sure that anyone elected is elected by a majority of voters i.e. 50% + 1vote
- The two round system allows the electorate to express its preferred choice in the first round and vote definitively in the second
- The period of reflection of 2 weeks in the French case allows for alliances to be formed and policies to be refined or changed and for electors to consider and discuss their choices.
There is only one obvious disadvantage: the system requires electors to vote twice.
If we now apply the system to the recent Peterborough byelection, on the assumption that people would have voted the same way in the first round, we see that the final result might have been very different. As of today, under the 50% + 1 system everyone would have been eliminated except Labour and the Brexit party. Under the 12.5% barrier system the second there would be a three-way run-off between the Brexit Party, Labour and the Conservatives, the LibDems missing out by 81 votes.
So, one can try to speculate on how people would have voted if the choice was between Labour and Brexit, in the first system, or between these two and the Conservatives in the second system. What we see in France, however, is that the second-round turnout can also change dramatically. So, for example, faced with the prospect of voters trying to stop Labour winning, we might see the turnout, which was under 50% increase to 75%! Similarly, in order to ensure that the Brexit Party did not win we might see reluctant voters coming out, holding their noses and voting for Labour. What is important is also how the LibDems would advise their voters to vote after their elimination. I would suggest that Vince Cable would encourage them to vote Labour in the second round so as to rule out a hard Brexit. Now, if you reflect upon this, it is much more likely that the extremists would be eliminated.
If you coupled this system with voting on Sunday rather than Thursday, the two-round system could well involve a larger proportion of the population in the voting process.
|Candidate||Description (if any)||Number of votes|
|BRISTOW Paul||The Conservative Party||7243|
|FORBES Lisa||Labour Party||10484|
|GREENE Mike||The Brexit Party||9801|
|HOPE Howling||The Official Monster Raving||112|
|KIRK Pierre Ed||UK European Union Party||25|
|O` FLYNN Patri||SDP Fighting for Brexit||135|
|RODGERS Dick||Common Good: Remain||60|
|ROGERS Tom||Christian Peoples Alliance||162|
|SELLICK Beki||Liberal Democrats||4159|
|WARD Peter Mark||Renew||45|
|WELLS Joseph||Green Party||1035|
|WHITBY John||UK Independence Party||400|