The End for First Past The Post?

By Gemma Shaw

A recent survey has confirmed that the majority wants to change Britain’s current voting system, known as First Past The Post.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his 28 September speech, promised Britain a referendum on the voting system, if Labour are re-elected. The survey by YouGov was of 673 adults in Britain who watched Brown’s speech, and showed that 77% agreed that the referendum is a good idea, with 18% believing that it is a bad idea. When asked how they would vote in a ‘First Past The Post vs Alternative Vote’ referendum, 58% would vote for AV, while 30% would stick with FPTP. 2% would not vote.

Alternative Vote, commonly regarded as a more complicated but accurate voting system than First Past The Post, involves a ballot on which voters rank the candidates, instead of choosing a favourite as in FPTP. It also means that usually candidates have to have more than half of the vote in order to win the election.

The survey also asked whether the participants think that local referendums on whether to recall local MPs are a good idea. This means that the public get the chance to get rid of MPs who have not done their job well enough. 88% of the people who voted believe that this type of referendum is a positive thing, with 8% disagreeing.

This move by Labour promises the people more power in the event of the party’s re-election. The most recent YouGov voting intentions survey – 9 October – shows that 27% of participants intend to vote Labour, while 44% currently favour Conservative.