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info about the UK referendum
IP: 95.149.93.175

This is a non Shaman related news post for UK members over the age of 18.



Brits should be aware that something amazing is happening on May 5th. For the first time in a long time, you actually get a say in politics. On May 5th, registered voters in the UK will be able to vote in a referendum (a question posted by the government, usually regarding a new law) on whether or not they want the voting system to change.

I know a lot of people aren't very politically minded. Some people will probably have hit 'back' on their browser already, and I'm prepared to bet most of the ones who are still reading this don't understand what is being voted on, or why, or what the consequences are. You probably all know by now that I'm a firm believer in democracy and I believe very strongly in everyone using their voices and having an opinion, so I'm going to take a few minutes to try and break the referendum down for you. At the end of the day, I don't care which way you vote on May 5th. I just care that you use your voice. So many people across the world are desperate for what you have - revolutions in countries such as Egypt recently have arisen because people want a better, fairer system like the one you're being offered.

And at the end of the day, you can't complain about the government if you don't use your vote, can you? :P


The referendum is about changing the way we vote for our MPs in local elections. The UK uses a first past the post system. Most European countries no longer use this system because it is often considered outdated - they use proportional representation. The referendum is asking us, the voters, if we would like to keep first past the post or switch to the alternative vote (AV). I'll briefly break these down as simply as I can.



First past the post means that voting is broken down into areas, so in actual fact you aren't voting for the leader of the party, you're voting for the party representative in your local area. A vote is held in each area, and the candidate with the most votes becomes the local member of parliament (MP). So, say the votes look like this:

Candidate for the blue party - 30% of the vote
Candidate for the yellow party - 20% of the vote
Candidate for the green party - 40% of the vote
Candidate for the purple party - 10% of the vote

That means that the candidate who represents the Green party for your local area becomes your local MP. The party with the most MPs elected becomes the government, and the leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister. That's a very basic explanation which doesn't explain our current coalition government, I realise that, but if you want to find out more you can ask me or research it further.

If it makes it easier to understand, first past the post is the system we use on Shaman in our general elections for the Core ;)



Alternative vote still works on a regional basis, so you are still voting for your local representative as opposed to the national leader. In first past the post, when you go to vote you simply mark an X next to the candidate you want to win. With the alternative vote, you (the voter) rank the candidates in order of preference, like this:

1st: Candidate for the yellow party (the candidate you want to win the most)
2nd: Candidate for the green party
3rd: Candidate for the purple party
4th: Candidate for the blue party (the candidate you want to win the least)

If one candidate receives over 50% of the vote, they automatically win the election and become the local MP. However, if one candidate does not receive over 50% of the vote, then the candidate with the least votes is removed from the election. The vote-counters take the second-preference vote of everyone who voted for the party with the least votes and redistribute them to the other parties. This continues until one party has over 50% of the vote.

Let's take a look at our earlier example.

Candidate for the blue party - 30% of the vote
Candidate for the yellow party - 20% of the vote
Candidate for the green party - 40% of the vote
Candidate for the purple party - 10% of the vote

In this case, no one party has 50% overall. Because the purple party came last, that candidate is removed from the election. The second-preference votes from the people who voted the purple party are redistributed to the other parties, and now the results look like this:

Candidate for the blue party - 32% of the vote
Candidate for the yellow party - 25% of the vote
Candidate for the green party - 43% of the vote

There's still no one with over 50% of the vote, so we remove the next lowest candidate (the yellow party) and redistribute their votes to the other two, like this:

Candidate for the blue party - 57% of the vote
Candidate for the green party - 43% of the vote

So in this case, the candidate for the yellow party wins because they have over 57% of the vote. So even though the green party had the most votes to start with, more people would have been happier with the yellow party in power, so the yellow party won through this "preference" system.



It's not all that hard to understand - basically, the new system will allow you to rank candidates in order of preference instead of just picking one.

This is the question you will be asked on May 5th: "Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the 'alternative vote' system instead of the current 'first past the post' system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?"

If you vote YES, we will go over to the new alternative vote system. If you vote NO, we will stick with the current first past the post system.

There isn't a whole lot of info out there on this unless you go looking for it, which is why I felt like I should post something here. Hopefully it's been informative for people.

Referendums really are something special... they're the very definition of democracy, because it's power to the voter. I encourage everyone wholeheartedly to vote one way or another.

For more information, the BBC provide a pretty good Q&A here. There's info about what the different parties want here.

And here are the two websites for and against alternative vote:
"No to AV" campaign - www.no2av.org
"Yes to fairer votes" campaign - www.yestofairervotes.org


Never forget that you have a voice, and you deserve to be heard. Having an opinion is a great thing. Having a chance to show your opinion and make a difference in the world is even better. Please remember to vote on May 5th.




Additional: I didn't explain proportional representation here because I didn't want to confuse people, since it isn't actually being offered to us as a system. If anyone is interested in PR and how they vote in Europe, I can provide a basic explanation. :)

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