A proper democracy in the 21st Century deserves a proper voting system to elect representatives.
It is really important that we make good decisions, because sustainable and functional human societies are complex and varied. The thousands of little decisions are as important as the few really big decisions, and we must nurture and protect a democracy that serves us all. Ideally a new voting system will deliver these benefits:
- effective decision making
- accurate reflection of the diversity of the population
- a wide range of opinions and positions
- clear accountability
- attract our best and brightest to the role of representative
LIFE will make our democracy more effective by changing the structure of our democratic bodies, and by improving the way we vote. These changes are included in what we call “Proper Elections”, or PE for short. These changes result in government that unifies effective management, accountability and political leadership better than we do today. Every governing body, from the national parliament (subject to a referendum in 2019) to a all local Community Assemblies, will use the same voting system.
In Proper Elections every voter makes a first and second choice. Multiple representatives will always get elected, but when those members vote on issues in their assembly, each member will vote with the weight of all the people who voted for them at the last election. So every assembly member gets to have a say, but the decision making power lies with the members that represent the most constituents. All the voices get heard, but decision making is not hostage in minority perspectives.
To encourage our best and brightest to use their skills and experience in the service of us all, all members will be paid well, and paid in direct relationship to how well their constituents are doing. Members will be paid a salary of five times the median earnings of their constituents – if their constituents earn more, so will they.
The Democracy & Freedom Bill 2015
In the Democracy & Freedom Bill 2015, LIFE will institute Proper Elections (PE) as the standard voting system for all Assembly elections.
All Assemblies will be multi-member assemblies, and election of Assembly Members (AMs) will be proportional.
Every citizen of the constituency will be able to cast a ballot with a first and second preference from the same list of candidates as all other citizens of the same constituency.
Constituency Sizes & Ratios
Each layer of government will have different ratios of Assembly Members to citizens, with Communities having the smallest and UK national Assembly having the greatest
|Layer||Ratio of AMs to Citizens||Term (Years)|
For instance, the UK has a population of 63,000,000 so there can be a maximum of 63 Assembly Members in the UK State Assembly. A regional Assembly for Scotland, which has a population of 5,500,000, could have a maximum of 55 Assembly Members.
In practice the number of Assembly Members is likely to be substantially lower than these maximums because the votes will not be equally spread across all candidates.
Candidates with sufficient 1st choice votes to qualify by passing the quota, defined as the half the total votes divided by the number of seats available, are duly elected, in order of the number of 1st choice votes received.
The percentage of the vote required to pass the quota varies depending on the population of the constituency compared to the standard ratio for its size, resulting in up to 7% for small populations but more normally 0.5%.
The votes for the lowest scoring, non-qualifying candidate are reassigned to those voters’ 2nd choices until all representative positions are filled, using the same quota but accounting for both 1st and 2nd choices.
If there are remaining unfilled positions using the quota then those seats are left unfilled, so long as the minimum representative quantity of 3 has been met. If the minimum number of 3 is not met then further elections must be held again one month later and then every three months.
The remaining votes for unqualified candidates are assigned to their 2nd choice candidates, if those candidates have been elected.
This is effectively proportional representation using the Single Transferable Vote system with a Hare quota, except that candidates are not competing for a single available seat. The only voters who do not actively affect the outcome are those who choose both 1st and 2nd choice candidates that do not reach the quota.
Elected Assembly Members will be paid the same salary of at least 5 times the median income of their constituents. During their tenure they will not be allowed to receive income from any other source, nor to own any interest in a business that operates in their constituency.
Voting in Assembly
In order to provide for the proportional representation of the voters, each representative in an assembly will vote with the weight of their vote count (including both 1st choice and reallocated 2nd choice votes) in matters before the assembly.
A quorum is reached when the assembly has representatives present when have a combined vote weight of 75% of the total votes cast at the last election, less the vote count of any representative(s) who are absent for a consecutive assembly session.
It is recognised that, particularly in smaller constituencies, this could result in a single representative with effective control of the assembly. If the citizens choose to entrust such power to the hands of one or a few, so be it.
The internal organisation and structure of an assembly is ultimately formulated at the discretion of the members. See policy on Accountability.
Neither the appointment of cabinet members nor the formation of councils shall encumber the assembly in meeting and making decisions immediately upon election.
If you are interested in more detail on Proper Elections, you can find it here.