Voting Systems 3
LCER guide to Electoral Systems continued...
Alternative Vote Plus (AV+)
A variant of AMS devised by the Jenkins Commission set up by the Labour Government in 1997. AV would be used instead of FPTP in the constituency contests, and the party lists would be ‘semi-open’, giving voters additional choice.
We elected our MEPs using a ‘closed’ list system from 1999. Each party fields an ordered list of candidates in each electoral region. A formula (the D’Hondt method for European elections) is used to convert parties’ shares of the votes into seats. If a party wins, say, three seats the top three candidates on its list are elected.
List systems can also be ‘open’. Voters then vote for particular candidates on lists and if a party has enough support to win, say, three seats, it is the three candidates of that party with most personal votes who are elected.
List systems are used in most European countries.
Single Transferable Vote (STV)
Voters vote by ranking candidates in order of preference, as with AV, but in contrast to AV, STV uses multi-member constituencies and can therefore produce more proportional results. In the count, as well as transferring votes from eliminated candidates, votes are transferred from candidates with more votes than they need to secure election by reaching the “quota”, the number of voters over one plus the number of seats + one. This results in most voters contributing to the outcome.
STV is used in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland (except for Westminster elections), Malta and for the Senate elections in Australia. It has been used for Scottish local elections from 2007, and was recommended by the Sutherland Commission for local elections in Wales.