British voters reject new voting system for parliamentary elections through referendum

Published: 07/05/2011 05:00



British voters have rejected the idea of replacing the current first-past-the-post voting system for parliamentary elections with Alternative Vote (AV), according to the referendum’s counting result released on Friday evening.

Workers count ballots for the referendum on the Alternative Vote, in a
sports centre in Vauxhall, London, May 6, 2011. British voters punished
the Liberal Democrats for their role in a deficit-cutting government on
Friday, deserting the party in local elections and almost certainly
rejecting its efforts to reform the electoral system. (Xinhua/Reuters

The NO campaign claimed its overwhelming victory with about 69 percent of British voters saying “no” to AV. More than 17 million votes were cast across the country with a turnout of over 40 percent.

On Thursday, British voters went to the polls to decide whether to change the voting system or not.

Under the first-past-the-post voting system, the candidate who gets the most votes in his constituency is elected to parliament, no matter whether the total passes 50 percent or not. The alternative vote asks voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

According to the AV voting system, people can nominate as many preferences as they like. Only first preference votes are counted initially. Anyone getting more than 50 percent is elected automatically.

If that doesn’t happen, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and his votes would be distributed according to the second preferences to the remaining candidates in a second round of counting.

The Conservatives want to retain the existing voting system, while their coalition partners, the Lib Dems, want AV. Labor Party is divided on the issue as its leader Ed Miliband is in the Yes camp.

Lib Dem Party leader Nick Clegg, also deputy prime minister, conceded defeat and said it is a bitter blow. But he insisted he is committed to remaining in the coalition and seeing its work through.

Miliband also responded to the referendum result, saying that he was disappointed by the verdict but acknowledged that the people have spoken “very clearly.” However, he promised to continue to argue for a new politics in Britain.

Source: Xinhua

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