Greens back 'yes' campaign for referendum on electoral reform

Greens back 'yes' campaign for referendum on electoral reform

By staff writers
13 Sep 2010

The Green Party in England and Wales has announced that it will join the 'yes' campaign in next year's referendum on electoral reform.

The resolution came from the party's conference in Birmingham on 13 September 2010.

Many proponents of electoral reform have expressed doubts about supporting AV (the Additional Vote system), on the grounds that AV is not a proportional voting system and therefore its introduction would not be a thorough reform.

But the Green Party conference agreed to take a firm line in favour of AV in the referendum, as an initial step in the right direction and to demonstrate an "appetite for change".

Welcoming the Greens' decision to campaign for changing the voting system, the director of leading campaign group Unlock Democracy, Peter Facey, declared: "The AV referendum will be a fight between those who believe in a better democracy and the apologists for the status quo."

He continued: "We are delighted that the Greens, with their proud record for political reform, will be joining us in this important campaign."

"The Greens in particular have historically suffered from people voting tactically to stop the candidate they least want rather than the candidate they actually support. With AV, people can vote for who they really want which is good news for the Greens and - more importantly - good news for the voter," said Facey.

The party's deputy leader, Adrian Ramsay, commented today: "We want everyone who favours electoral reform to put their full weight behind the Yes campaign. A Yes vote would bring a step in the right direction and demonstrate an appetite for change. Greens and others who want a fair, inclusive proportional way of voting will then continue to campaign for further reform."

The Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, the new MP for Brighton Pavilion, has proposed amendments to the bill currently before parliament.

The Green amendment would give the electorate an opportunity to vote for a genuinely proportional system. But it is expected to be killed off by the Conservatives, who are allowing the referendum but are opposing even the relatively minor reform to an AV system.

This will then leave reformers with only two options: to support the Yes campaign as a first step, or to join the No campaign in order to reject a reform they believe doesn't go far enough.

Adrian Ramsay explained: "If you vote No in this referendum, nobody would know whether you were rejecting AV because you wanted genuine reform, or were simply opposing any reform. We think the only logical vote for reformers is to vote Yes to AV, because everyone who does so is clearly showing that they're unhappy with the current system."

He concluded: "AV is not perfect but it has a clear advantage over first-past-the-post: it undermines arguments for tactical voting because under AV voters can give their first preference to their preferred candidate or party, safe in the knowledge that their second preference will count just as strongly if their first preference is unsuccessful. Votes cast will therefore be a much better reflection of people's views."

[Ekk/3]

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