Thursday, November 24, 2011

PV has some merit

Yesterday I talked about the two worst alternatives to MMP in Saturday’s referendum: First Past the Post (FPP) and FPP’s fancy-dress cousin, Supplementary Member (SM). Today, in separate posts, I’ll talk about the two alternatives that have some merit. First up, Preferential Voting (PV).

The video above is the official explanatory video for the Preferential Voting system, also known as “Alternative Voting” and “Instant Run-Off Voting.” The video at bottom is CGPGrey’s explanation.

Preferential Voting is a vast improvement on FPP, but unlike SM, there’s no proportionality at all. The two main ways PV improves on FPP are that winners have majority support and it removes the spoiler effect. However, it’s only somewhat more likely to elect small party or independent candidates than is FPP.

It’s important to remember that PV is not intended to be proportional, but merely a fairer way of electing representatives. As such, it is a good replacement for FPP in places where proportional representation can’t be implemented, like the United States. If the US were to switch to PV, it’s probable that over time small party candidates could be elected, and it’s also likely that even candidates of the two main parties would be more representative and would pander less to their party base (this is especially true for Republicans).

By eliminating the spoiler effect, voters in PV can vote for the candidate they really want in their first preference without worrying that doing so might accidentally elect the candidate they least want. In PV, no vote is truly “wasted”, which is again different from FPP in which votes for minor party candidate are usually wasted votes.

Here in New Zealand, PV is no substitute for MMP—but they’re apples and oranges. In my perfect world, we would elect our electorate MPs using PV, while Parliament as a whole would be elected under MMP. To me, that would play to the strengths of both systems: The improvements PV makes to FPP are significant, and when combined with the proportionality of MMP, it would be a hugely fair, representative and democratic system.

But that’s not the question before us, and, dealing only with the one that is, I would not choose PV to replace MMP, which is a vastly superior system because of its proportionality. That leaves only one other possible alternative, and that’s in my next post on voting systems.

But, still, I’m voting to Keep MMP.

For official information on the referendum, go to www.referendum.org.nz
For information from the campaign to Keep MMP, go to www.keepmmp.org.nz

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

Because the US DOES have districts, this would be my choice, if it were offered in the US.

As noted, MMP has ZERO chance in the US. This is at least incrementally better.