Friday, 8 May 2015

Election results are trickling in

from the UK general election on one of the news feeds I follow. The results there are always more rapid than the results here Downunder because the system is different. 
There are always arguments for and against each system. First past the post is seen one way, preferential is seen another.
Downunder has compulsory preferential voting. If you do not mark all the boxes your first choice will not (normally) count. There are some exceptions to that rule but they are rare and often the subject of a court case in a tight election.
But, even if a case can be made for preferential voting, then compulsory preferential voting has to be wrong. Our  state newspaper has a front page article about our local MP this morning. I have written about him elsewhere. He is the man who, a few short weeks after being elected, announced that he is was effectively switching sides and taking up a Ministry in a government which was elected by a minority of the voters. (It won the greater number of seats - just -  due to an issue with electoral boundaries.) 
It was not a popular move. His approval rating is now down around 5% having plummeted still further because he has supported the closure of a hospital which also serves a special purpose for war veterans. As he is a former member of the SAS this has met with disbelief.
If he has the gall to stand again then how do people vote? They can of course preference him last but is that the point? Why should anyone who feels strongly about his defection be required to place him anywhere on the ballot paper?  This is said to be democratic. 
No. Being able to stand for election if you meet all the legal requirements is democratic. Being required to vote in a certain way is not democratic. It can lead to unintended results.
I don't envy the British today. There will, whatever the result, be recriminations and soul searching. There always is post a major election. I wonder how the home of my ancestors will vote and whether UKIP will actually get any seats but at least I know that someone will not have entered politics not because people voted for him or her but because they voted against someone else.
"Democracy" is a strange thing.

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