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Changes to the way Parliament is Elected (RPA)

Comment 20th July 2010

Participation in our democratic processes has been declining for decades.  The most obvious sign of this is the low turnout at elections, but the low participation in the whole process, from attendances at public meetings to membership of politicval organisations to people standing as candidates, is also a cause for concern.

The question is why are people not engaged when clearly they have concerns.  I think the answer is two-fold.

1.  People do not thinking they can change anything (i.e. their vote does not count).

2. People think that it does not matter to them who represents them as 'they are all the same',.

I seek to address the first point.

Most of us live in safe seats where the result of an election is known in advance.  Here the argument that an individual vote does not matter is valid.  The way to get round this is through a form of proportional representation where each vote really matters.

I would suggest that the next Parliament is elected using the d'Hondt method currently used for the Eurpean elections as people as familiar with it. However I would like to see one small change to this system.

At the moment the parties list their candidates in order.  What I would like to see is a seperate ballot paper where the electors can also vote for up to the number of candidates that there are seats available.  The order within the parties will therefore be determined by the voters.

This would enable a voter to express their disapproval of the behaviour or views of a candidate without having to vote against the party they support.  It would also enable all voters to express their views on who should be the representatives of all parties.

Why does this matter?

The party managers would hate this as it puts power directly in the hands of the people.

We need to re-energise our democracy.  Too many people go unrepresented.  What chance of raising an issue in Parliament if you are a socialist in Guidford or a tory in Jarrow.

This multi-member seat system would ensure almost everyone ends up with someone who can represent there views even, and especially, where they are a minority.

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