Thursday, June 03, 2010
A curious fact about STV
We have abolished it in the UK once already. When the universities had Parliamentary representation, Oxford, Cambridge, Combined English and Combined Scottish were all entitled to more than one seat (e.g.). They used to be elected using a block vote mechanism, but the Representation of the People Act 1918 changed the mechanism to the Single Transferable Vote. When the seats were abolished in 1950 following the Representation of the People Act 1948, Westminster STV died with them.Curiously, the university seats which retained a single member retained the first-past-the-post system and did not change to the alternative vote, the system to which STV reduces in a single-member constituency.The reason the university constituencies died was, of course, that we wished to defend more rigorously the principle of 'one person, one vote': nevertheless, it is an interesting historical curiosity that in addition to multi-member constituencies, which were common in the nineteenth century, we have already had, and already scrapped, the single transferable vote.