Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Is Tactical Voting Intelligent?

I am still reflecting on the recent hustings I organised with Paul our local Methodist minister. May blog about it in a day or two. What is clear is that a lot of people don't know what they want to vote, and are even unsure whether to vote at all. I guess in an election where the ideology of the parties is less of a divide than the pragmatics of getting us out of an economic hole, the choice becomes more personality based.

Meanwhile, Ed Balls and Peter Hain have been talking about voting tactically (or intelligently as Hain put it) Some would see that as desperation, whereas others would see it as a necessary consequence of a first past the post voting system that can elect an MP with under 1/3 of the votes cast (31.4% elected the Labour candidate Gordon Banks in Ochil and South Perthshire in 2005) Even the Daily Mirror says vote tactically!

It is frustrating for people who feel strongly that they want to support a party's policies but know casting their vote for their real choice is very unlikely to have any effect on the result. That's why I would personally favour a shift to another system such as alternative vote, where your first vote is for your first choice, but you can cast a second vote for another candidate (which could be one of the main contenders) Labour had a last-minute conversion to this, so it may yet surface in post-election negotiations.

If you're interested in thinking about voting tactically you can even look up online the stats. Tacticalvoting.org provides some advice and stats [not necessarily the views of this blogger] and suggests how to vote tactically either to block a party or for a hung parliament. You could also check out Hang 'em.

Of course, I wouldn't presume to tell you what you should actually do, but take a careful look at the stats.

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1 comment:

Steve Hayes said...

Here in South Africa we've had proportional representation for the last 15 years or so. Before that we had the constituency system. I think PR is preferable, in that smaller parties get representation and everyone's vote counts (no unopposed constiuencies). The disadvantage is that MPs are more responsible to the party than to the electorate. Perhaps the best is the German system, which I believe has both.