Sark needs STV

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a claim by Sark First, a reform group on the island, for Sark elections to be by proportional representation (PR).

The Court commented that there were no formal political parties in Sark and, with an electorate of just fewer than 500, designing a “proportional system would prove difficult”.

Although that is true of most PR voting systems, it is untrue of STV as I have advised Sark First.

Most PR systems are based on party lists which, in turn, are based on formal political parties and most mainland European countries that have PR systems rely on party lists. The Court probably has no experience of other PR systems.

The Single Transferable Vote (STV) system offers the ideal solution.

Malta and Ireland (the Republic) both use STV. Also, Northern Ireland uses STV for all elections except to the UK House of Commons and Scotland uses STV for local elections.

STV does not depend on party lists or parties and works equally well with or without parties, so it would be ideal for a community like Sark.

When there are parties, it can provide proportionality not only between parties but also between any other groupings that matter to voters; e.g. pro- and anti-EU Conservatives and pro- and anti-EU Labour voters in the UK.

In a non-party situation, it can provide proportionality between groupings of any sort. The UK’s Electoral Reform Society advocates STV and uses it for its own internal (non-party) elections as do many other civic society organisations, including my professional institute, the Pensions Management Institute.

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