Preferential Voting

Satay Mat

All Australian
Aug 14, 2001
I advocate that the direct election preferential voting system as practiced in the lower house of the Australian parliament is the most efficient election system in place.

Many people claim that given it is direct election and preferential that a vote for a minor party is a wasted vote as your preference will simply be apst to Labor or Liberal anyway....however I think it is far more palettable than the alternatives:

1. Proportional Representation (eg Senate)

Under this model you get one seat for achieving a given quota of votes. This generally enables the representation of minor parties far more than direct election. It also tends to lead to less stable governments, or governments which consist of broad coalitions thereby reducing the impact of the minor parties in the first place. I do not like proportional representation as I like to vote for an individual representative. Who goes to the senate for the Liberal party (or whoever) is not determined by the electorate (unless you vote below the line) is determined by the Liberal Party. You also get loonies like Haradine from Tasmania getting elected by 4 dogs and a goat whereas people in NSW could get 100,000 votes and not be elected (although this is a flaw with the make up of our senate not necessarily proportional representation). Regardless it puts some minor people in positions of incredible power far beyond their representation.

2. Simple Majority

I am sure this as a more technical name....but in effect it is direct election and whoever gets the most votes wins. On this basis you could be elected with <50% of the votes....simply because you got the most. Again, this system I feel is inferior to preferential voting as having people elected without a majority does not make sense. You could have the situation where the left wing candidate gets 30%...the centre left 30% and the far right 40% and is elected....fair to say that a majority of people would find that a bad idea. If geven a choice most of the left wingvoters would vote for the centre left before the far right anyday. Perhaps fair electoral systems are really about "who would you least like to see in power" rather than "who would you most like ot see in power.

3. Multi-Round Elections (eg EU Presidents).

Under this system the candidates are sorted out one by one....with multiple elections spanning several months. First you have say 4 candiates and then it is narrowed down to 2. All of those who voted for the 2 candidates who dropped out then need to vote for one of the 2 who remain. This is essentially preferential voting but drawn out over multiple elections.

At the end of the day our election system delivers a condidate with a majority (after preferences) and it does so without multiple and efficient. So I like it. It is direct representation so who have control over who you are voting for. You can vote for a minor party and sometimes it has an impact (eg Mayo last election where the redgum fellow almost tipped Downer out). I would also argue that being a 2 party direct election model it delivers relatively stable governments....although perhaps not as accountable as proportional representation.

Your views ?

Satay Mat

Fat Red

Club Legend
Jun 28, 2001
AFL Club
Other Teams
The "technical" name for what you call simple majority Satay Mat is first-past-the-post.

This name is also inaccurate. What is really mean is 'plurality', or 'the one who gets the most votes wins'.:)

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