An apposite observation perhaps: as we desperately try and search for alternative hows of voting, it is principally because we find the whats so dispiriting. As Andrew observes on Facebook:
I’m finding myself defending FPTP: not so much because I think it’s a superior system, more because the vast majority of critics seem to misunderstand and misrepresent it. Probably one of the best arguments is what happened in East Belfast. With a list-based system Peter Robinson would have been elected top, in evident defiance of popular opinion, while someone further down the list would have paid the price. By contrast, in an individual-based system like FPTP, *anyone* can win if they really mobilise and enthuse people (which the Lib Dems failed to do), even in ‘safe’ seats. and *anyone* can be subject to the ultimate scrutiny, and beaten. Alternative systems transfer this power to the parties. There’ll be ups and downs, but there’ll never be *shocks*. That’s very bad.
My response as follows:
I suppose it really depends on whether your overriding objective is to re-engage the general voting public in politics or ensure strong but unrepresentative government. From what I’ve read, STV doesn’t actually foreground the party so much as other systems might. Quite the opposite (see the second comment on Paul’s original post).
FPTP – where it produces “strong” government – does, in my mind, offer a longer-term and more drawn out experience of shock as policy-making swings violently between one approach and another. All the achievements by one party in power must be undone by the following, instead of a more consensual approach being followed on the larger issues of the day.
As the local council results seem to indicate, where politicians rule, the public generally seeks change. This is a curious and unhappy circumstance – a damning indictment of an entire profession.
Or maybe a damning indictment of the system in which these essentially good and sincere individuals have to find a way of working.
The truth of the matter is that we can’t do both things at once. If we wish to improve voter-engagement in politics, we must – in some sense – let be the desire for branded strength to decline.
After all the scandals of recent times, it is surely time for the former to be prioritised over the latter. If we wish to re-engage real voters, we have to be relevant. And relevant means listening to people in their homes, schools and places of work.
Voting reform is required.
A different dynamic must be contemplated.
The local must now be allowed to walk hand-in-hand with the national.