Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The STV - Single Transferable Vote

The arguments around this proposal sometimes seem more focussed on whether it's easily understandable or not rather than its merits (intelligibility, of course, being just one of them). Most of the world's developed democracies are using some form of proportional representation and it appears that STV is quite intelligible to those who've used something like it. From this Australian perspective, it all seems quite simple, even admirable. Perhaps it's time to listen to voices of experience rather than scaremongering.
In the end an overwhelming majority agreed that the electoral system should change, that the change should be to what they call BC-STV (basically Hare-Clark but with electorates of varying populations and numbers of MPs) and a referendum giving final choice to the voters. The whole process restores one’s faith in the wisdom of the population. In discussing their conclusions the assembly members get to the heart of what democracy should be about, and they weighed up which system will best provide this. What's more, they communicated their decision in clear and moving prose of the kind that is now an endangered species in Australian political discourse. It’s easy to get depressed about the state of politics in Australia and around the world, but the Citizens’ Assembly indicates a way out. Don’t leave it to a bunch of self-interested megalomaniacs. Don’t go for citizen’s initiated referenda – which only work if the population pays attention and sees through the expensive campaigns of special interest groups. Instead, take a random sample of ordinary people and give them access to everyone’s views, and the time for proper consideration.
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