Thursday, April 07, 2011

Papua New Guinea doesn't use the Alternative Vote

We keep hearing the mantra repeated that only three countries in the world use the Alternative Vote - Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Invariably the focus has been on the first of these three, where data, studies and commentary is most readily available. Of the other two, Fiji has its problems that are rather more deep seated than the voting system, and Papua New Guinea appears misreported.

Papua New Guinea adopted the Alternative Vote in the past but switched to First Past The Post in the mid 1970s. In 2003 they changed the system again, but contrary to much casual reporting they didn't adopt the Alternative Vote.

Instead they adopted the Limited Preferential Vote - see Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission - Limited Preferential Voting for the official description on it.

Now I'm sure many of you are wondering what the difference is. Well under LPV a voter can only indicate preferences for a limited number of candidates. Rounds of transfers follow. A version of this system is actually used in the UK for Mayoral elections, albeit with voters allowed only two choices and the second round involves only the candidates with the two highest first preference totals.

The Limited Preferential Vote displays many of the same issues as the Supplementary Vote and neither of them really qualify as the Alternative Vote. Hardly any AV campaigners in the UK hold up the Supplementary Vote as an example of AV, and the Limited Preferential Vote isn't one either.

So that's two countries that use AV then...


Mark Wadsworth said...

Heh heh, nice one, I have linked.

Neil Harding said...

AV is also used in Ireland to elect their President (and also for by-elections), Maltese by-elections and N.Ireland and Scotland in their local by-elections. Also in the USA for Mayor elections in many cities. It is also used by 14m people in England, many churches, friendly societies, voluntary groups, trade unions, student unions and indeed MPs use it to elect their leaders and select committees. A form of AV - SV is used in Mayor elections in London and elsewhere. So that's 8 countries then, and LPV is a form of AV, so it is arguable that Papua New Guinea do use it, plus France and many of their colonies use the 2 round system which is very similar to AV. So thats a few dozen countries - phew!

The man in the Oporto said...

More NO campaign lies!!

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Actually Neil was a Yeser and some of his claims are deliberate untruths. I could take all day to go through each item on his list so I'll just take a few:

* Students' unions. The turnout in these elections are usually quite low, plus anyone who has ever counted them (and I've lost count of how many I've counted) will know many people treat them as FPTP elections, putting Xs on the ballot paper and even some candidates use an X on their campaign material. If someone has used an X I don't think they've consciously used AV.

* Leaders. Labour used AV to elect its leader (although are Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman, both of whom came from behind to win on transfers, really the best selling point for AV?) but the claim the Conservatives do is a lie by the Yes campaign. The Conservative system is a hybrid that combines the actual election with the nomination and only two candidates are put to the membership.

* UK Mayors. The Supplementary Vote is different from AV, as AV & PR campaigners never tired of pointing out whenever challenged with the experience of those elections. You can't have it both ways and LPV is closer to SV than AV.

* Two round ballots - these are not very similar to AV as you have separate campaigning and a limit on who goes into the second ballot.


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