Monday, 29 November 2010

AV vs FPTP - which will deliver the best MP for YOU ?

Surely the answer to this question is the one that really matters?

1) FPTP (First Past The Post)
- You decide which candidate (or party) you like most and you vote for them by putting an X against them.
- You decide the most important thing is to keep a particular candidate (or party) out, so you decide who is most likely to be able to beat them and you vote for that candidate (or party) by putting an X against them (this is known as 'tactical voting').

Your job is done, the count is then done (you don't see this bit):
- The votes for each candidate are added up.
- The candidate with the most votes wins.

The result is announced:
The  candidate you voted for may have won and now be your MP or they may not have won and your MP will be whoever most other people voted for.

2) AV (Alternative Vote)
- You rank the acceptible candidates in the order you prefer them.

Your job is done, the count is then done (you don't see this bit):
- Votes (1st preferences) are counted.
- If any candidate gets more than half of the votes then they win.
- If no candidate gets more half the votes then the least popular candidate drops out and the votes are recounted. Anyone who voted for a candidate who has been knocked out has their next preference counted instead.
- If there is still no candidate with more than half the votes then this is repeated (drop out and recount) until there is!

The result is announced:
Your MP will be who ever you gave highest preference to and was not knocked out as the 'least popular' during the count.


I think it is apparent that under FPTP you will either get the MP you voted for. Or you will get one of the other candidates but you will have had no influence over which other one it is.

Also, under FPTP one in five people (20%) don't vote for the candidate they like most, they vote tactically to try to keep another candidate out - so even if their vote does help the winner, it isn't who they really wanted anyway.

Under AV your multiple preferences will have been taken into account - so even if more preferred candidates are knocked out (as least popular overall) you will still have had a say in which of the others eventually does become your MP. And that MP will have received over 50% of the votes counted, so will have most voters support.

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