I don’t like the Single Transferable Vote

In Scotland we use different voting systems for every single election – First-past-the-post for Westminster, AMS for the Scottish Parliament, STV for Scottish council elections, and d’Hondt for the elections for the European Parliament.

I personally prefer d’Hondt and don’t mind AMS, but I really don’t like STV (the Single Transferable Vote).

On paper it’s a beautiful system. As Wikipedia puts it, “under STV, an elector’s vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or unused votes are transferred according to the voter’s stated preferences. The system minimizes “wasted” votes, provides approximately proportional representation, and enables votes to be explicitly cast for individual candidates rather than for closed party lists. It achieves this by using multi-seat constituencies (voting districts) and by transferring votes to other eligible candidates that would otherwise be wasted on sure losers or sure winners.”

However, this only really works well if voters remember to vote for all the candidates they would like to get elected. In practice, many voters will only vote for one or perhaps two candidates, which leads to a lot of wasted votes.

Even worse, because the political parties anticipate this flaw, they don’t put up more candidates than they expect they can get elected. This is because they fear that if there are two candidates from party X but only votes enough for one candidate to be elected, the two candidates will share the votes so evenly that none of them get through.

An example of this was the elections to Glasgow City Council in 2007: The SNP put up 22 candidates and got them all elected; however, in many wards they got so many votes that it’s likely they could have got more people elected if they had tried. Labour didn’t seem to suffer much from putting up a very large number of candidates, but if their share of the vote had been a bit lower, it’s quite possible they would’ve ended up with fewer councillors than if they had put up fewer candidates.

This way of second-guessing the number of candidates you can get elected is to my mind quite undemocratic and requires a solution. If STV cannot be abolished, I think it should be obligatory to rank all the candidates (but that would probably lead to a very large number of spoilt ballot papers).

However, to me the best solution would be to replace STV with either AMS or d’Hondt.

A brief explanation of the Danish general election result

The British media seem to have commented widely on the Danish general election which took place on the 15th of September 2011, but they seem mainly to have been concerned with the fact that the leader of the Social Democrats, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is Neil Kinnock’s daughter-in-law, and they have been wondering why her surname isn’t Rasmussen like all other prime ministers for the past 18 years.

However, there are some real points of interest that I think are worth highlighting.

First a little bit of history: Denmark has generally had many (8-10) parties represented in parliament at any one time, and most governments have therefore been minority coalitions. For instance, from 1982 to 1993 Poul Schlüter led a series of centre-right governments consisting of the Conservatives, the Liberals and one or two centre parties; from 1993 to 2001, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen led a series of centre-left governments consisting of the Social Democrats, the Social Liberals and sometimes of a few more centre parties; and from 2001 to 2009, Anders Fogh Rasmussen led a right-wing government consisting of the Liberals and the Conservatives. However, whereas the governments in the 1980s and 1990s tended to make deals with various parties, Anders Fogh (and his successor, Lars Løkke Rasmussen) almost exclusively ruled with the support of the far-right Danish People’s Party. (It would be a bit as if the UK had been ruled by a Con-Lib coalition in the 80s, by a Lab-Lib coalition in the 90s, and by a Conservative government dependent on UKIP votes after 2001.)

The fact that there were so few deals made across the political centre meant that the left-wing parties and the Social Liberals started to be seen as one monolithic construct, the so-called “red block”. Within this, the Social Democrats and the Socialists were from 2007 to 2011 far bigger than the Post-Communists and the Social Liberals (45 and 23 seats compared to 9 and 4), so they decided to make a joint manifesto and tell the others they’d just have to support it.

This angered the Social Liberals, and a few months ago they made a hugely important deal with the government about raising the retirement age, in direct opposition to the red-block manifesto. This was hugely popular with the voters, who also seemed to dislike the way the Socialists were adopting all of the Social Democrats’ ideas in their quest for power: The Social Liberals went from 9 to 17 seats, the Post-Communists from 4 to 12, while the Social Democrats dropped from 45 to 44 (their worst result for a century!) and the Socialists from 23 to 16. Adding on the three left-of-centre MPs from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, that makes for a majority, albeit a slender one. On the right-hand side, the Liberals had a good election, going from 46 to 47, while the Conservatives fell from 18 to 8, the Danish People’s Party went from 25 to 23, and the Liberal Alliance went up from 5 to 9.

So the political situation is that the prime minister had a good election but had to resign, while the leader of the opposition had a bad election but will become prime minister.

However, the idea that the red-block manifesto can be enacted is now dead. It is not yet clear whether the next government will consist of just the Social Democrats and the Socialists, or whether they will include the Social Liberals in the government, but it’s very clear that there are many ideas in the manifesto that the Social Liberals and the Post-Communists won’t accept. For a start, the retirement-age reform will stand as the parties behind it (the Social Liberals, the Liberals, the Conservatives and the DPP) still have a majority, which completes undermines the Social Democrats’ big idea of the election campaign, which was increasing working hours by 12 minutes a day.

The Social Democrats can of course try to govern with other parties, but there aren’t many constellations that can be relied on most of the time.

It’s probably most likely that the government won’t last very long, and that there will be a new election sooner rather than later.

Den politiske situation nu er ikke et spejlbillede af 2001



Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen
Originally uploaded by ~ Magne

På valgaftenen spurgte en journalist Enhedslistens Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, om hun var den nye Pia Kjærsgaard, og jeg tror, mange formodede, Danmark nu får en regering, der er lige så venstreorienteret, som Anders Foghs var højreorienterede.

Men situationen nu er slet ikke den samme som i 2001, blot med modsat fortegn. Det foreløbige resultat fra valget i går er: EL 12, SF 16, S 44, DrV 17, LA 9, K 8, V 47, DF 22, og hvis man spejlvender resultatet fra 2001, bliver det: EL 22, SF 16, S 56, DrV 4, LA 9, K 12, V 52, DF 4.

Med andre ord er EL + S + SF meget langt fra at have flertal. Der skal bruges stemmer fra DrV eller andre partier til højre, og det vil i høj grad begrænse Enhedslistens indflydelse.

I 2001 havde V+K flertal alene med DF, og der var intet flertal alene med DrV og KrF (der var en flertalsmulighed med SF, men den blev ikke brugt ofte). Man kan altså godt argumentere for, at Fogh var tvunget til et tæt samarbejde med DF, og at han blot gjorde en dyd af nødvendighed.

Situationen nu er meget anderledes. Der er mange interessante flertalsmuligheder, men de kræver gode forhandlingsevner. Jeg kan godt være bekymret for, om Helle Thorning-Schmidt er den bedst egnede til denne opgave – i opposition specialiserede hun sig i at lave forslag alene med SF og ignorere EL og DrV.

Hvem véd – måske viser hun sig at være en ny Schlüter, men hvis ikke, skal danskerne nok snart til stemmeurnerne igen.

Midterpartiernes sejr

Det radikale Venstre og Liberal Alliance fik ved dette valg tilsammen 26 mandater. Det er dobbelt så mange, som midterpartierne fik i 2001 (se de lilla områder til højre).

Naturligvis var valget i dag også en sejr for Enhedslisten, men det var reelt nok bare en masse SF’ere, der var blevet trætte af Villys ministerdrømme: S + SF + EL fik 72 mandater, præcist det samme som i 2007.

Dansk Folkeparti holdt stort set skansen, så den store ændring ved dette valg har reelt været en vandring fra K til DrV og LA.

Det bliver interessant at se, hvordan det nye folketing kommer til at fungere. Uanset om DrV kommer med i regeringen eller ej, vil den enten skulle finde støtte fra EL eller fra et eller flere partier til højre side.

Hvis vi antager, at de nordatlantiske mandater fordeler sig som tre til S og ét til V, er der flg. flertalsmuligheder:

  • V/A
  • V/O/B/F
  • V/O/B/Ø
  • V/O/B/I
  • V/O/B/C
  • V/O/F/Ø
  • V/O/F/I
  • V/O/F/C
  • V/O/Ø/I
  • V/O/Ø/C
  • V/B/F/Ø
  • V/B/F/I
  • V/B/Ø/I/C
  • V/F/Ø/I/C
  • A/O/B/F
  • A/O/B/Ø
  • A/O/B/I
  • A/O/B/C
  • A/O/F/Ø
  • A/O/F/I
  • A/O/F/C
  • A/O/Ø/I
  • A/B/F/Ø
  • A/B/F/I/C
  • A/B/Ø/I/C
  • A/F/Ø/I/C

De fleste af disse må dog anses for at være helt urealistiske. Udover A/B/F/Ø vil jeg regne med, at vi kommer til at se A/B/F/I/C og måske V/A(/F).

Jeg tvivler dog på, dette bliver ret stabilt – Enhedslisten vil nok vide at tage sig godt betalt, så jeg vil spå, at næste valg kommer før 2015.

99%

Så er resultatet næsten klar – se her.

DrV bliver igen større end SF, og S + SF + DrV + EL får sammen med de nordatlantiske mandater flertal:

S + SF: 60

S + SF + DrV + EL: 89

S + SF + DrV + LA: 86

S + SF + DF: 82

V + K + DF: 77

V + K + DF + LA + KrF: 86

V + K + DrV + LA + KrF: 81

Prognose med 47% optalt

Næsten halvdelen af stemmerne er nu optalt, så prognoserne begynder nu at stabilisere sig. Baseret på DR’s tal er her den nyeste mandatfordeling.

Det ser desværre ikke ud til, at S, SF og DrV kan lave flertal med LA i stedet for EL:

S + SF: 61

S + SF + DrV + EL: 89

S + SF + DrV + LA: 86

S + SF + DF: 83

V + K + DF: 77

V + K + DF + LA + KrF: 86

V + K + DrV + LA + KrF: 80