Electoral watchdog: It is 'absolutely right' that we consider introducing PR

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Indy Politics

In an intervention that will reignite the debate over electoral reform, Sam Younger, the chairman of the Electoral Commission, said it was "absolutely right" to look at whether to introduce PR.

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Younger acknowledged that "there is a real discussion to be had" about changing the voting system. He urged the Government to open up a Whitehall review of electoral systems to the wider public for consultation.

"I think it is fair to say there's no doubt a system with proportionality in it is likely to give a better reflection in terms of the composition of the legislature to the balance of views within the country," he said.

Mr Younger's comments will encourage campaigners in favour of electoral reform and put renewed pressure on the Government to launch a formal review of the voting systems.

Since The Independent launched its Campaign for Democracy almost 40,000 people have supported a call for Tony Blair to review the voting system.

In an interview with The Independent this week, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, appeared to adopt a more conciliatory stance on reform by acknowledging that some arguments in favour of PR may be "worthwhile".

Mr Younger suggested a Whitehall review should be opened to wider consultation and that "the views of people at large are a component in deciding what the right outcome is".

He continued: "I think consultation is always a good thing. And certainly if you were going make significant change to the electoral system you would want it to be in the public domain so the public understands what it is that is being proposed. In principle, significant reviews should have a wider public input."

Mr Younger, chairman of the official body that monitors elections, said he could not take a formal position on which voting system to adopt, adding that his organisation would not be "coming out and campaigning" for PR.

He said commissioning new research on whether changing the voting system would boost turnout and voter engagement was being considered. "In terms of research and analysis we may have a contribution to make. One needs to look at all the dimensions of what might or might not be driving engagement. This is one of the issues in that context that needs to be looked at."