Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hamel-Smith’s proposals

The following is an excerpt from the series the Express published on Timothy Hamel Smith’s “Re-engineering the Constitution”. It highlights his views, with respect to the electoral system and ensuring there is no minority government, with a proposal that is similar to the run-off provision contained in the present bill.

I believe our winner take all electoral system as operated in our plural society has produced and exacerbated the cleavages and tensions which results from the supporters of the winning party gaining all the spoils of election victory while the losers believe their job is to make the country ungovernable.

What country could possibly achieve sustainable development when we flip-flop between such alternate divisive arrangements? When we add to this the fact that since at least 1981, more than 20 per cent of the electorate have no representation in Parliament, producing minority governments—that is the popular vote reflects more persons voting against than in support of the government—then we know that the present electoral system has failed us and we need change.

So what electoral system would produce a fairer system and better representation?


His recommendations:

  • Introduce a Parliament consisting of a single House, similar to New Zealand and Germany, and the recommendation made by the Wooding Commission). MPs elected as at present but utilising a preferential voting system to vote in each constituency.

  • Candidates appear on ballot paper as at present with party logo

  • Voters identify their preferences among the candidates by placing on ballot paper:

1 against voter’s first-choice candidate

2 against voter’s second-choice candidate

3 against voter’s third-choice candidate

As easy as 1, 2, 3.

The EBC counts votes as follows:

  •  If a candidate gains more than 50 per cent of total votes in constituency, that candidate is elected winner

  • If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote, then:

The last-placed candidate is eliminated.

The votes for this candidate are re-allo­cated to the candidate named as second-choice candidate on the ballot paper.

The candidate who ultimately gains more than 50 per cent of the votes is declared the winner.

Benefits of preferential voting

  • No vote is wasted

  • Higher voter turnout—in Australia, over 90 per cent turnout is recorded

  • Ensures the candidate elected is fa­voured by more than 50 per cent of electors in each constituency

  • Avoids minority governments

  •  Avoids voter-padding or gerryman­de­ring claims

  • Introduces fairness and creates confidence in electoral system