Preferential Voting

So, we’re off and running, and each campaign for leader and deputy leader has already accumulated some endorsements from party members. Jim and I are no exceptions – indeed, we are each managing a leadership campaign, though we didn’t know that would be the case when we set up the blog.

It is perfectly natural that people should feel so strongly about one candidate over the rest that they publicly endorse them – perhaps someone with whom they have worked in the past, who shares their politics closely, or by whom they have been particularly impressed in one way or another. My only concern is that, in the rush to join one ‘team’ or another, people might be forgetting that these elections are run on the basis of preferential voting. In other words, while you should give a lot of thought to your first preference candidate, your other preferences are likely to be important too.

Personally, I am delighted that preference voting is a core part of our method of electing executive members. It tends to lead to more constructive campaigns when there are a significant¬†number of candidates, as people know that negative attacks on their opponents simply reduce the likelihood of preferences from that candidate flowing to them in the later rounds of counting. It also means that even candidates who might not appear to be front-runners can garner first preferences from voters aware that they need not vote for the ‘lesser evil’ initially. All of this is true, however, only if voters are aware of the system being used. So – over the forthcoming couple of months – remember that supporting one candidate doesn’t mean that you won’t be voting for any of the others. The order of your preferences may just be vital!

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