Letter: PR: some pointers for the puzzled

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Diamond ("Under PR no one gets what they voted for", Letters 7 May) makes a strong case against proportional representation. He adds that "first-past-the-post is, indeed, imperfect, but it is the least imperfect of all the options".

All the options? What about preferential voting (also known as the alternative vote)? It retains the benefits of constituency-based representation with the advantage of better reflecting the will of the whole electorate. Is it not better to have a government elected by majority, even if a small proportion of the electorate voted for them as a second preference, than one elected by only 44 per cent of the people?

There are disadvantages with preferential voting: it does favour parties which occupy the middle ground, and can on occasion elevate the third runner to first when second preferences need to be counted. It also takes far longer to count. But it allows people to vote with their conscience, and dramatically reduces the "wasted vote".

I hope that, when a referendum is put to the people on electoral reform, preferential voting is given a fair chance alongside PR and the current system, and that the people, once aware of its existence and use already in other advanced democracies, will support it.

DOMINIC MESSENGER

Horsham, West Sussex

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