The truth about STV

The truth sometimes takes longer to explain than a short untruth. Someone posted on Make Votes Matter’s Facebook page, “STV is semi-proportional. If we want a true PR system, only the first choice vote matters, and constituency size is irrelevant. STV delivers F15PTP.”

He managed to pack four inaccuracies into those few words but their brevity makes them easy to understand and could misinform readers.

Although most STV Action readers will know the truth, you may find
my reply useful when you discuss voting systems with others. Sorry it’s quite long, but here it is:

“Constituency size is highly relevant. The bigger the constituency, the more proportional the result. The smaller the constituency, the less proportional the result. This applies both to party list systems and STV. It’s basic arithmetic. FPTP with only one representative per constituency is the ultimate in disproportionality.

“You don’t seem to understand STV, especially as advocated in the UK.

“When you refer to “F15PTP”, you may be referring to the practice in Australia, where I understand some constituencies have as many as 15 representatives. Most UK electoral reformers advocate STV constituencies with about 5 representatives.

“However, STV isn’t F15PTP or F5PTP. If it was, the same party would usually win all 15 or 5 seats. Many local elections in England and Wales really are F3PTP and the same party usually wins all the seats even if it has only about a third of the votes in a closely fought 3-way election.

“STV in multi-member constituencies produces a proportional result. The more representatives per constituency, the more proportional the result is, but five per constituency produces quite a proportional result.

“To say STV is only semi-proportional even of parties is simply untrue. In its report published in 2008, the UK’s Ministry of Justice concluded that STV (used for most Northern Ireland elections and all Scottish local elections) was the most proportional system used in the UK – more proportional, for example, than AMS used for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

“Not only is STV in multi-member constituencies party proportional but it also has many other advantages.

“STV offers non-party proportionality between any other groupings of importance to voters even if they cross party lines; e.g. between Brexit and Remain and between men and women. STV offers more freedom of choice than any other system to voters. STV can avoid wasted votes, whereas most PR systems can only reduce them.

“I recommend http://www./ if you’d like to know more about STV.”

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2 Responses to The truth about STV

  1. Geoffrey Goode says:

    Dear Anthony,

    The only Australian Lower Houses using PR – Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory – use PR-STV with each electoral district electing 5 members. The district magnitudes of Australia¹s Upper Houses range from 5 in Victoria to 21 in New South Wales. Until PR-STV was introduced for the Senate¹s multi-member constituencies in 1948, with advice from the UK¹s Electoral Reform Society, acknowledgement of which by the Minister introducing the bill appears in Hansard , the Senate had been elected by two successive winner-take-all systems . At the 1917 election, the Labor Party won 44% of the vote nation-wide, but won none of the 18 seats up for election anywhere in Australia. After the following half-Senate election, from 1920-23 the Labor Party had only one senator, whereas the remaining 35 senators were Nationalist Party senators.


    Geoffrey Goode

    Secretary Proportional Representation Society of Australia (Victoria-Tasmania) Inc.

    Re-established in 1943 to campaign for PR for the Senate and the House of Representatives A0048538N Victoria ABN 31 010 090 247

    www, +61429176725

    From: STV Action Reply-To: STV Action Date: Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 23:53 To: Mr Geoffrey Goode Subject: [New post] The truth about STV Anthony Tuffin posted: ” The truth sometimes takes longer to explain than a short untruth. Someone posted on Make Votes Matter¹s Facebook page, ³STV is semi-proportional. If we want a true PR system, only the first choice vote matters, and constituency size is irrelevant. STV d”

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