Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Would AV Benefit Extremists?

So here's the argument; extremists will benefit under the Alternative Vote because the votes from their supporters could swing the result. The No to AV campaign particularly highlight the British National Party and have produced a map of some constituencies that could be decided by the BNP's second preferences.

This idea completely misses the point of why people vote for the BNP in the first place. Most of the BNP's voters are not racist, they're disillusioned with the main political parties for various reasons. These reasons are played upon by the BNP to garner their votes, such as immigration, jobs and political correctness. The BNP are absolutely abhorrent, but many of the people that vote BNP are just taken in by their campaigns or perhaps vote for them out of protest.

Also, it's utterly impossible for any one party's second preferences to influence the result unless their first preferences were substantial (at least 10%), a convincing majority of their supporters transfer to a party that would've otherwise lost the election, and the difference in votes between the top two parties is small enough to be effected by a given party's transfers.

As it is, there are almost no circumstances where the BNP vote would change the outcome of an election in any given seat; and even if there was a seat where a different person won, it wouldn't make any difference to who won the election over all, nor would it make the person who was elected any more extremist than their opponent.

In fact the party that could decide who could win a given seat, would be the one that is in 3rd place after all the other parties had been eliminated and their votes transferred. These votes have often been described as the wasted votes under First Past the Post because the only way these people's votes could have changed the result is by voting for one of the parties that came 1st or 2nd. AV would give these people the voice they deserve by allowing them to choose between the top two candidates, without having to resort to tactical voting.

Right, myth busted. The referendum is on 5 May.