Posts tagged: av
In the footballing world we’ve just had two big annual awards dished out: the Football Writers’ Award to Scott Parker and the Professional Footballers’ Award to Gareth Bale. The latter caused a particular controversy, partly due to the timing of the voting being just half way through the season but also because of divided opinion on who merits the award. Let me use a simplified, hypothetical example to show how a different voting system could help alleviate some of this debate.
Say for arguments sake a large majority of people (70%) believe that the award should go to the stand out player from the stand out team. As Manchester United are winning the league the candidates could include Nani, Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic.
Another sector of opinion (30%) believe it should go to the player that has contributed the most to their own team: I’m thinking Charlie Adam, Gareth Bale or Scott Parker.
As the first group of people are considering the performance of individuals within a highly performing team, opinion is much more likely to be split. Nani, Giggs and Vidic may well all poll similarly high figures.
The second group of people could equally be split but, again for arguments sake, lets say they all eventually flock around Gareth Bale because of his European performances.
Here’s my hypothetical results:
Gareth Bale 30%
Ryan Giggs 24%
Nemaja Vidic 20%
Now despite most people believing the winner should go to the stand out player from the stand out team, Gareth Bale has come out on top and he wins the award. This is what happens in a majoritarian system, a concentrated minority opinion beats a divided majority.
How could we rectify it? Well there’s a number of ways but lets use the political topic of the day: the Alternative Vote system.
What happens here is that instead of selecting just one candidate, each voter can rank their most favoured candidates 1, 2, 3 and so on. This is called an order of preferences. If nobody reaches a majority (50%) on everybody’s first preference, then the candidate that finishes last is taken out and all of his second preferences are added to the other candidates’ total.
So in my example, nobody reaches 50% as the leader Bale sits on just 30%. As the bottom candidate is Vidic, out he goes and most of his second preference votes (three-quarters) go to Nani whilst the others (a quarter) go to Giggs.
We now look like this: Nani 41%; Bale 30%; Giggs 29%.
Still nobody has hit that 50% mark, so out goes Giggs and all of his preferences are predictably redistributed to Nani.
We have a winner: Nani hits a whopping 70% whilst Bale stays static on 30%.
Why is that more fair? Well the majority of people didn’t want a player like Bale to win, they wanted a player that stood out for the best team to win. Nani may not have been everybody’s first choice, but a majority of people would have been happier with him winning it than Gareth Bale. What we’ve got is a result that the majority are satisfied with.
Now I’ve avoided politics for much of this post but this is basically what the AV referendum is all about. The No camp want to keep a system where whoever gets the most votes wins. Sounds simple and fair doesn’t it? But as I hope my example as illustrated it can often mean that the majority of people end up with a result they don’t want.
The Yes camp want to make this small adjustment to a system of AV that should mean that more people are satisfied with the end result. All the voter has to do is put his preferences in order: 1, 2, 3. All the counter has to do is keep eliminating the lowest placed candidate until somebody ends up with 50%. Now that is certainly simple and is more likely to be fair.
Of course I wouldn’t make the outlandish claim that the system is perfect or that in every instance a similar scenario to the one above will occur. But it certainly increases the chances of the result being one that more people are happier with. That is why people should care about this referendum and that is why people should vote YES.