Welcome To The AV Referendum Site

On 5 May 2011 UK voters said 'No' to AV. The margin of victory in the AV referendum was overwhelming - 67.9% to 32.1%. Our initial view is that many people, even those sympathetic to electoral reform, didn't find its benefits convincing. All the campaign arguments appear noises off. Centre stage in the defeat of AV was surely this: it would only result in more seats for the Liberal Democrats, the party demanding the referendum. In the tribal world of party politics this was hardly going to convice Labour and Conservative voters to support it.

The real tragedy is that most of the electoral reform movement publicly supported a change to another majoritarian system. In our view, no change to any part of the electoral system should be endorsed unless it grants at least some increase in proportionality. We argued since our launch in September 2010 that it was far better to introduce the single transferable vote (STV) for local elections in England and Wales than introduce AV for Parliamentary elections. In this way, voters can experience a more proportional system for themselves and the entire UK electoral system becomes more proportional in nature.

The electoral reform movement now appears to be setting its sights on obtaining an elected House Of Lords, a reform we would welcome. However, such a change is likely to be protracted and divisive and may not happen in the next Parliament let alone in this one. And there's the vexed issue of which electoral system should be used. It is probable that traditionalists will only countenance first-past-the-post, if they countenance change at all.

One unnoticed casuality of the AV referendum could be STV. The first choice system of the electoral reform movement is a preferential voting system like AV, which was disliked and largely misunderstood by the electorate in the rushed referendum campaign. However, there is a strong argument for using STV for locals - it is already used in Northern Ireland and Scotland and this would mean the UK using the same kind of proportional system for all local elections. Such a move consolidates our fragmented electoral system. There is no such argument for House Of Lords reform - indeed the only hope appears to be for a top-up system like the one used for the devolved assemblies.

In party political terms the big losers of the 5 May vote were the Liberal Democrats, the third party (in all its guises) that has shed more seats due to the unfairness of first-past-the-post than any other. We urge the party to use its influence in government to not drop the cause of electoral reform but to realize that reform of local elections may be more palatable to traditionalists (there are many hung councils already) and hence more realizable. This woud represent a significant first step on the road to reform and a genuine victory after the disaster of the AV referendum.

Our home page from 5 May 2011.

Why reformers should vote NO in the AV referendum

The Case Against AV

AV is no solution to our growing democratic deficit

To believe that changing one disproportional system for another will encourage greater proportionality, pluralism and somehow lead to PR is the height of wishful thinking. Reform groups and smaller parties should reject AV, publicly stating their preference for PR; this way a "no" vote cannot be misconstrued as a vote against the real reform our democracy requires.

Reformers must ignore the false dilemma of the AV referendum. The question on the ballot reads: should AV be used instead of first-past-the-post? Most reformers would say "no", PR should.

So we should vote that way, too.

The Case Against AV outlines the five reasons for a principled NO vote.