Archiv für die Kategorie „Coalition Tensions“

Alternative Vote (AV): Coalition Tensions

Dienstag, 26. April 2011

The upcoming May 5th Referendum on the Alternative Vote was always bound to create major tensions between the Conservative & Liberal Democrat governing Coalition partners, the two parties in fundamental disagreement over the Yes/No referendum issue which leaves no room for compromise. The rather lacklustre campaigns of both sides up to now have suddenly burst into life with each attacking the other, whilst still seemingly not exactly engaging with the possibly even more confused voting public, whose turnout in turn could remain at the normally low levels of the local council elections taking place at the same time.
Certainly the No campaign claim of only Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Australia using the AV system could be considered misleading when at the same time this fails to mention the around 30 countries, including France with its presidential elections, that use the 2-round (run-off) system which is a variant of AV. Also the additional costs associated with electronic counting and validation of the successive rounds of counts required for AV, might only be necessary if final results were still expected on the Friday after the 10pm Thursday closure of polling stations. Otherwise, the current manual counting system could suffice if results were instead declared over the weekend, with additional costs involved only from the increased counting staff hours involved. This of course tends to contradict the assertion of the Chancellor, George Osborne, and which is also disputed by the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, that expensive new machines will be needed to count the votes in an election under AV.
However, both sides need to appear to aggressively differentiate themselves from each other within the Coalition, to appease their traditional voters whilst accepting that it is in the interests of neither party for the Coalition to collapse after 5th May. With their tough deficit reduction programme, the Conservatives need the 5 years of a fixed term parliament to allow time for sacrifices now to make way for later benefits in the mind of the electorate. Similarly, the Liberal Democrats know that a general election now would lead to heavy losses and they need a 5-year plan for recovery of their identity, to prove that they are not only distinct from both Labour and the Conservatives but also fit to govern.