Friday, February 23, 2018

Why the fuss about the run-off vote?

 I have been paying attention to the ongoing debate on the constitutional amendment and cannot understand the fuss about the run-off vote.

From what I have read and heard, the amendment says that in any constituency in a general election if no one gets more than 50 per cent of the vote then there would be a second vote 15 days later in which voters would get a chance to choose between the two candidates with the highest and the second highest vote.

People are saying this is undemocratic and dictatorial but I don’t see how that is so.

All it says is that the person who will become the MP must have more than half of the votes cast. In other words, it gives a voice to the majority, which is what is needed in a democracy.

Suppose we have a vote in Constituency X and Candidate A gets 30 per cent; Candidate B gets 25 per cent and the rest of the 45 per cent goes to candidates C, D, and E.  It means that Candidate A gets 30 per cent of the votes and becomes the MP although 70 per cent of the people voted against him/her.  How is that fair or democratic?

Under the run-off system, that candidate with 30 per cent and Candidate B with 25 per cent would be on a second ballot and people get a chance to choose between them and one will get the majority and become the MP. That is much fairer.

People are saying it means people would have to choose somebody who is not from their party and that small parties won’t get a chance. 

Well everybody who goes up for an election wants to win so if you placed second or third you didn’t win in any case so what does it matter if you drop off the ballot. And voting is not compulsory so if you don’t like the two people on the run-off ballot you don’t have to vote for them. But in the end the best from among the five who ran will be the MP.

I think the people who are afraid of the run-off vote are people who know they cannot win but want to split the vote to spite somebody else.

Allan Hewitt