The European Parliament’s leading specialist on electoral reform says that Britain must not miss its chance to modernise its democracy at the referendum in a week’s time. Andrew Duff, who is the Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England, urges all progressive forces to unite behind a Yes vote. In a statement today (28 April) he says:
‘The great thing about AV is that it allows the voter more discretion over who becomes MP. AV benefits people not parties. The opportunity to express positive preferences in the ballot box is a much more suitable voting method for a modern, educated, sophisticated civil society than the crude ‘winner takes all’ system we have lived with for too long.
‘More discretion for the voter is an incentive to turn out to vote. Parties will have to work hard to recruit second and third preferences, making negative campaigning less common. AV means that the elector will no longer have to cast votes negatively, to keep out the party they most detest.
‘More choice means more democracy. More democracy will mean a stronger Parliament and, one hopes, better government.
‘In 2010 two thirds of MPs were elected with less than half of the vote. So the votes of most people did not count in the composition of the present House of Commons. AV will transform the scene.
‘Above all, AV prevents the election of a candidate against the wishes of a majority of constituents.
‘Supporters of more radical reform, such as proportional representation, should vote Yes to AV. We must not let the best be the enemy of the good. AV is much better than the present, primitive and discouraging system.
‘Progressives in all parties, including those in the Conservative party, will be working hard in the last few days to get the Yes message across.’