2012 has been a very busy years in terms of the number of election in all their splendiferous variety. Across the world we have seen the people going to vote from Mexico, France, Netherlands, Greece, Russia, South Korea, India as well as new fledgling democracy in some Arabs countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. It would seem we are just a hope scotch away from mundialization, which I vote for Sting to represent the UK.
What a year for the democratic elections to shine in all its variety.
The French election is a basic run-off competition, which the second round between Holland and Sarkozy led to some strange anti-Semitic/immigration comment by the latter as he tried to gather Marine Le Pen votes. The Egyptian election was uncomfortable for the western world, as the mix between proportional representation and winner takes all electoral system put in power the Muslim brotherhood in power. Whilst although under not as much criticism western world, but certainly to much consternation of the other EU nations, the Greek people electorate gave a large portion of their votes to the Neo Nazis and Communist parties (An extreme version of the UK coalition?).
Yet none of them have garnered as much attention as the USA presidential elections.
The great United States presidential elections between Mittt Romney and the incumbent current president Barack Obama will be a close. The current polls show only a few points lead to Obama. Although since the charismatic Bill Clinton gave his speech at the democratic convention Obama has seem to picked up enough of lead that will certainly help him sleep a bit more comfortably at night. Not too comfortably as a couple of days later Clinton introduced Romney at the Clinton Global initiative conference, to which Romney quipped that he hoped that Clinton introduction would have the same bump in polls for him that it did for Obama.
The USA has a very interesting and unique voting system compared to a lot of countries due to its history. Although Electorate College have been used by different countries at some point only the United states has continued this tradition. Arrow’s impossibility theory shows that there is no perfect voting system yet the electorate system has produced strange results in the past such as the 1886, 1888 and most recently the 2000 elections. The Electoral College was chosen specifically for the USA federalist system so that sparsely populated state would not lose out to more populous states. This means that the USA president in not directly elected by the people but by the state and electors cast votes for a specific candidate so that instead of having one vote per person it is a state win all votes. This has led to specific way of campaigning and strategic voting in the States. In terms of party politics it has meant overwhelmingly strong two system party which concentrate on nine swing state and are safe to ignore the rest of the USA. It also means that a candidate only needs 22 per cent of the popular vote to win the election. Should the United States change its system to a more vox populi and change to a presidential direct election?
The UK in 2011 tried to change from winner takes all (simple plurality) to instant run off (alternative vote) method. It was felt its voting system of direct election to an alternative would be more representational. The Electoral Reform Society looked at winner takes all (first past the post), the alternative vote and single transferable vote. Its finding with all the caveats seem to find only slight change between winner takes all and alternative voting for the conservative, labour and liberal democrats. The real difference was the single transfer votes, which was never proposed as an alternative. There was many reason why the Yes to AV campaign did not work, in suffered a massive loss by more than 64 per cent.
Political system once entrenched are hard to change and reform happen through turbulent chaotic times such as revolution in the middle east. Lord reforms in the UK have found not so much opposition as intractable inertia. Americans will find it even harder to change their traditional voting system especially when it has been passed down from the hollowed founding fathers. Yet the voting laws have been changed before to give women and minorities the right to vote.
The results should be interesting in November when the popular votes are counted and the electors officially cast their state votes on 6th of January. I do wonder who would be the winner if alternative more representational voting such as instant run off or single transferable votes replaced the Electoral College.