UK - Lord Jenkin's Proposals

David Marsay djmarsay at
Thu Sep 24 05:23:45 PDT 1998

Any comment on this? (Mine below)

> Date:          Wed, 23 Sep 1998 11:21:40 -0400
> Subject:       UK - Lord Jenkin's Proposals

>     Voters have two votes. The first, for the locally-elected MP, asks the
> voter to rank the candidates in order of preference: i.e. 1, 2, 3, etc.
>     The second, for the top-up list, asks the voter to vote for their
> preferred party (if the party lists are 'closed').
>     To be elected in a constituency seat, a candidate needs over 50% of the
> votes. If no-one gets enough first preference votes candidates with the
> fewest votes are knocked out and their second preferences are
> redistributed. This continues until one candidate reaches the 50%+1 winning
> post.
>     The second votes are then counted to give the level of support for each
> party in a county or region. If a party has only managed to win a few
> constituency seats, they get top-up seats to get their final total more in
> line with their vote share.

I claim.

1) Voters never have an incentive to vote other than for their true 
preferences, since preferences count only when the higher choices 
have been eliminated.

This is a clearly desirable, and a nice change from FPP or many other 
methods (e.g., approval).

2) A candidate with > 50% of 1st place votes wins. So the method is 
'majoritarian' in this sense.

Like FPP and vote-ranking methods. Approval is not like this. (If a 
'left' candidate has 51% support 2% of the supporters might rank a 
'centre' candidate 2nd, leading to a 'wrong' win for the centre 

3) A centre candidate will win unless it has the least support or 
some other candidate has an absolute majority (as above).

This violates the Smith criterion. But maybe that is a small price to 
pay. In extremis, a centre candidate with 2 supporters could win 
using the Smith criterion.  Do we really want to elect the candidate who
 has least local support? Also note that methods that appear to 
respect the Smith criterion do not encourage honest voting, so may 
not 'really' meat the criterion.

4) The method will tend to produce a parliament with more centre 
support. Moreover, the balance of seats for each party will be less 
dependent on boundaries. Must be good?

5) Even in a seat where a candidate is a 'sure-thing', voters may 
help elect a regional representative, thus encouraging voting. Good!

6) It still gives local representation - if that is important.

7) The method seems easy to understand and not a great change,and 
hence may be acceptable. 

8) The system might produce parties that are very similar, arguably a 
problem. However, geographic spread of views (at least in the UK) 
should mean that non-centre views continue to be adequately 

Have I missed something? Given that there is no 'ideal' solution, 
isn't this as good as it gets? Some might argue that it is likely to 
encourage coalition government, but wouldn't any alternative to FPP?


Sorry folks, but apparently I have to do this. :-(
The views expressed above are entirely those of the writer
and do not represent the views, policy or understanding of
any other person or official body.

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