alternative vote

alternative vote
(AV)
   A voting system in which the elector ranks the candidates in order of preference, 1, 2, 3, and so on. A candidate who receives a majority of first preferences (that is, 50.1 per cent) on the first count is automatically elected. If no candidate reaches this target, then the bottom one is eliminated with his or her votes distributed to the remaining candidates according to the second preferences on the ballot paper. The process continues until one candidate has a majority.
   AV has not been widely used. It operates in singlemember constituencies and is not a scheme of proportional representation. Indeed, in the Australian lower house it has on occasion yielded results which are highly distorted. Yet it is likely that if used in Britain it would give a result which is fairer to third parties such as the Liberal Democrat Party than that achieved under first past the post. In the elections of 1997–2005, it would also have actually increased Labour’s already-strong majorities and further weakened the Conservatives.
   If Labour were to contemplate change of the electoral system, AV would be a straightforward system, easy to graft on to present arrangements. Liberal Democrats have traditionally tended to dislike the scheme, preferring a more proportional outcome by which they receive seats approximately in accordance with votes.
   Further reading: D. Farrell, Electoral Systems: A Comparative Introduction, Palgrave, 2001

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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