25 February 2009

Referendum conundrum

Much talk this morning in the public prints (here in The Scotsman and here in The Times) of three question referendums.

How does that work then? If you have three options, what happens if option A attracts 37% support, option B attracts 33% and option C 30%?

I suppose that you could rank them in logical fashion. If not A, then B or C; if not B, then A or C; if not C then A or B. Alternatively, you could rank them by preference - vote 1, 2 or 3 to each option and the recast the votes of the bottom-scoring option on the basis of second preferences.

But, in terms of identifying the option commanding the whole-hearted support of the people, it all seems rather unsatisfactory ...

5 comments:

subrosa said...

A two question referendum is best. One for independence and one for further powers. The status quo is no longer acceptable by anyone.

James said...

Anyone with confidence that their views match the people's views would trust to a broader set of questions.

Referenda should in general include the status quo, if nothing else to give a clear choice and ensure a vote that's understood as legitimate.

Those of us who want to see more powers and ultimately a radically democratic independent Scotland devolving more powers to local communities have little to fear from that.

The system for voting on those options isn't rocket science either, it's effectively alternative vote, the simplest way of taking into account preferences.

If one position gets 50%, it is chosen. If not, the least popular single option gets eliminated and the second preferences of those voters get reallocated. If your option C voters split two thirds to B and one third to A, we know B is a better reflection of people's views than A, despite its small lead in first preferences.

James

Anonymous said...

1. Should the Scottish government have more powers?

2. Should those powers extend to independence?

Anonymous said...

I don't see why one option has to 'win' - it's an expressly consultative referendum, so why not consult on the opinions of the Scottish people rather than attempting to pigeonhole them?

I don't think there's a mandate for Scottish independence without over 50% of the (first preference) votes cast in favour. That much should be made clear.

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