Monday, November 16, 2015

Vote "tactical", get Tory

It would be interesting to know whether it's now the editorial policy of Bella Caledonia to promote the bogus idea that "tactical voting on the list" is feasible, or whether it's just coincidence that they've published two articles in recent days making the same case.  The first was a RISE press release (I'm not being snide - it really was a RISE press release), and the second was a piece by Craig Paterson.  I've already given my opinion on the nonsense in the RISE release, which was brazenly entitled "TNS poll shows SNP 2nd votes wasted", even though that poll actually shows the SNP are on course to take no fewer than six list seats, and RISE are on course to take a big fat zero.  (TNS found that just two respondents out of 1034 were planning to vote SSP on the list. It's quite possible that RISE will find it even harder to attract support than the SSP on their own, who at least have a long-established brand identity.)

The Craig Paterson article covers ground that we've gone over a million times before on this blog, but in case anyone is new to the arguments, I'll just respond quickly -

"Some SNP members/supporters have accused the other pro independence parties of splitting the vote: I think this is unfair and highly damaging to the movement as a whole."

'Vote-splitting' is probably not the most helpful term in the context of the list vote, because it implies that there can be only one winner and that any splitting of a potential winner's vote is harmful under all circumstances. That's not the case, but it's undoubtedly true that splitting the vote in a particular way can be extremely harmful on the list. The example I've offered many times is the North-east region in 2011, where there was considerable anecdotal evidence (not least in the comments section of this blog) that SNP supporters and even members voted "tactically" for the Greens in the mistaken belief that it was impossible for the SNP to win a list seat, because they were set to win too many constituencies. In the event, the SNP took one list seat in spite of winning every single constituency in the region, and the Greens fell short of taking a seat. But the SNP only barely claimed the list seat, so it's just as well for the pro-independence movement that the wholly counter-productive attempts at "tactical voting" were not more widespread. If just 2000 more SNP voters had switched "tactically" to the Greens, and 600 more had switched to the SSP, the final list seat in the North-east would have been taken by the Conservatives rather than the SNP, and the pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament would have been cut from 72-57 to 71-58.

"Lets look at it another way, why have the SNP not offered to stand aside on the list for the other pro indy parties? As we all know this would clear the way for a huge pro indy majority at Holyrood."

The second sentence is almost the only thing Craig says in his whole article that is actually true. The SNP standing aside on the list and making a recommendation to their supporters would indeed make this "tactical voting" wheeze work - but what Craig doesn't mention is that it's also the ONLY realistic way in which it could ever be made to work, because it's the only way people would be persuaded to switch in sufficiently huge numbers. So why don't the SNP do it? There are many good reasons, but the most important one is that it would be a blatant attempt to cheat the d'Hondt formula, and the Electoral Commission wouldn't let them get away with it. Simple as that.

"What is becoming evident by these polls is that the more constituency seats that the SNP win the less lists seats they will win"

That's just the nature of the Additional Member System, and it applies to every major party - it's got nothing to do with the current polls. What Craig doesn't point out is that polls can be wildly inaccurate (as we discovered yet again in May) and that it's impossible to know exactly how many constituency seats any party will take until AFTER the election is over - by which point it's a bit too late to do anything about your mistaken "tactical" vote on the list.

"Let’s take Glasgow as an example: somewhere we can surely all agree the SNP will clean up and take all nine constituency seats."

What?! With six months still to go? NO WE BLOODY CAN'T. Have we really forgotten how dramatically public opinion changed in the space of just two months in the run-up to the 2011 election?

"This will mean that the SNP’s list vote will be divided by 10 (9 seats + 1). Now I’m not going to go into the detail of who will get how many votes, but what I will say is that an SNP list vote is worth significantly less than a vote for any other party (pro indy or otherwise)."

That is simply untrue. Even if - and it's a huge if - the SNP's list vote ends up being divided by ten, that vote will in all likelihood still be "worth" more than a vote for a party such as RISE that is unlikely to even come close to doing well enough to take one seat. There is one respect in which the list ballot is exactly the same as first-past-the-post - if a party doesn't get enough votes to win a seat, all the votes for it have been totally wasted.

"The myth that by voting for another pro independence party more unionists will get in is just that, a myth, and it needs to be quashed and now."

Good luck to you, Craig, because you can't quash a myth that isn't actually a myth. The aforementioned North-east example from 2011 may be inconvenient to those who want to hoodwink SNP supporters into voting RISE on the list, but it's not going to go away.

"The truth is it’s much more likely that voting SNP on the list will result in more unionist MSPs. Don’t take my word for it, go look at the TNS poll. Labour are still picking up 33 list seats out of 56, even with the SNP taking more than 50% of the list vote they only get 6 list seats."

It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry when people say things like. Yes, the TNS poll shows the SNP on track to pick up "only" six list seats. It also shows the Greens on track to take just three, the SSP/RISE on track to take ZERO, and Solidarity on track to take ZERO. In other words, the TNS poll shows the SNP taking TWICE as many list seats as all other pro-independence parties combined. In exactly what way are we expected to believe that the poll is "proof" that a vote for the SNP is wasted? This is just silly beyond words.

"This question of tactical voting also works both ways: by asking the pro indy movement to use both votes for the SNP as it’s the best way to gain independence and keep the unionists out, you are advocating a tactic that is an insurance policy for the SNP getting a majority government..."

An interesting and important tacit acknowledgement that "tactical voting" puts the SNP majority at risk.

"...but is also a guarantee that the Scottish Parliament will look similar to how it is now...Scottish politics, despite the referendum, will not look much different from how it did after the 2011 Scottish elections."

Do you know what? I would settle for that. In fact I would bite your hand off. The 2011 result was nothing short of a miracle, and it's got us to where we are now. Winning an SNP majority, or even a pro-independence majority of any sort, is murderously difficult under the current system. What on Earth are we doing playing silly buggers and putting that at risk? The chances of "tactical voting" working in the way that Craig seems to think it could (ie. "nearly 100" pro-independence MSPs) are fantastically small, and the chances of it backfiring are significantly larger. But even if the monumental risk did pay off, what would it even achieve? What could we actually do with 100 pro-independence MSPs that we couldn't do with 70? Can anyone explain that to me?

"And if you are worried about the SNP winning a majority through the constituency seats alone, you really shouldn’t be – find me 9 seats that the SNP aren’t going to win on the constituency. It’s possible to point to 3 or 4 that could be tricky..."

"Aren't going to win" is the wrong test - "might not win" is the correct one. Here's a suggestion, Craig - how about starting with the TWENTY-ONE constituency seats that the SNP do not currently hold, in spite of their landslide victory in 2011?

"We only have to look across to Catalonia or even Portugal to see what can be achieved when our parliaments have a multitude of progressive parties to vote for."

I'm struggling to understand what that even means. Catalonia has exactly what we have - a parliament with a modest pro-independence majority. The news seems to have gone quiet in Portugal, but as far as I can see the President still hasn't allowed the left-wing coalition to take power, in spite of the centre-right government losing a vote of confidence last week. Why? Because the left-wing vote was split three ways, and the President can use the excuse that the socialists aren't the largest single party. Fortunately, the First Minister of Scotland is elected not appointed, but it's very hard to see how Portugal of all countries can be used as an example that "vote-splitting" isn't a problem.

45 comments:

  1. I'm just off the phone with survation and I thought you might like to know what they were asking.

    What is your local authority area?
    How likely are you to vote in the next Holyrood election?(1-10)
    Who do you plan to vote for in your constituency?
    Who do you plan to vote for in your region?
    How likely are you to change your mind?(1-5)
    Who else would you consider voting for?
    How would you vote if indyref2 was tomorrow?
    How did you vote in May?
    How did you vote last September?
    Were the promises made by the unionist parties before indyref 'completely broken', 'mostly broken', 'mostly delivered' or 'totally delivered'?
    Where do you get your news from?

    Sorry to go off topic so soon.

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    1. There was a Survation phone poll in the field a couple of months ago, but it never saw the light of day, so it was probably an internal poll for one of the parties. It'll be interesting to see if this one ever appears. The Record use Survation, but mostly for online polls.

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    2. Survation sometimes conduct telephone polls for the Daily Record - they did one right before the referendum - and Survation are due an opinion poll this month (based on their current cycle).

      It would be interesting to see how a Survation IndyRef VI would compare between online and phone voting - it would confirm or disprove the theory that telephone pollsters are more pro-Yes at the moment.

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  2. Re the article.

    It took me yonks, and the persuasive articles and comments here, to persuade me that I couldn't, in all concience, vote anything other than SNP 1 - 2.

    I don't know why Bella don't read your articles.

    It was not easy to give up on an SNP / GREEN rainbow, but it makes no sense if you want independence first.

    And I do.

    I think Mike Small does too. So this is just a case of wishful thinking on his part.

    It is however dangerous wishful thinking, something I admit I too was guilty of.

    The system stinks, the system is wrong, but we have to work the system we have been given.

    So.

    SNP/SNP.

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  3. I'm getting quite tired of the way Mike Small is pushing this tactical vote malarkey. The comments on the article are gratifyingly full of people taking it apart, but none of that seems to be stopping him.

    He gets on his high horse and makes passive-aggressive acusations of bias or partisanship against anyone questioning the motives of the people angling for a RISE vote on the list. He tried to make out he was just facilitating "political discussion" and that anyone who didn't like this was trying to stifle free speech. The excellent retort was made that he was doing no such thing, he was merely promoting bogus arithmetic - a political discussion would be a discussion that actually examined RISE's policies and discussed whether these were worth voting for. He was having none of it.

    I'm less worried about this than I was six months ago. Large numbers of people seem to be seeing through the scam, and saying so.

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    1. Mike Small, for whatever reason, seems to be willing to go right out on a limb and put Bella's reputation on the line if he keeps this kind of shoddy standard up. These articles irritate SNP members and voters (the ones ironically he seems to want to persuade) precisely because they are based on such dodgy 'reasoning' and arithmetic and are specifically designed to mislead rather than inform.

      As you rightly say Rolfe this absolutely isn't that SNP supporters don't want to hear about RISE or the SSP or the Greens policies, quite the reverse.

      Now that people are rolling their eyes at the spectacle of a 'peoples front of Judea' fight going on within the smaller parties right now it would clearly be in their best interests to get their policies into the spotlight instead of the slightly comical sight of them fighting over votes they have not earned and still inexplicably seem to think they are 'entitled' to.

      His choice though but if he keeps it up all the way to May he's going to find a great deal of goodwill vanishing with every misleading and easily demolished (the comments below the line, as Rolfe says, are excoriating and highly illuminating) 'article'/press release he pushes.

      If you desperately want the votes of another party, and you don't seem to be willing to do the hard work of persuading them with actual meaningful things like policy, then trying to mislead them, might, just might backfire on you hugely.

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  4. If the SNP attempt to 'cheat' the d'Hondt formula in the way you suggest, what can the Electoral Commission do about it?

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  6. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 16, 2015 at 8:28 PM

    I would vote for the party that fought the class struggles in Britain. That is Labour inspite of their drifting to the right. The SNP have had played no part in this struggle and have slagged off those who fought the struggle. Tartan Tory pariahs. Vote with your conscience. Vote for paying more tax and helping the poor.

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    1. You don't care about class struggles in e.g. France? Half my extended family is French. Do you not care about them too? Isn't a worker in Le Havre the same as one in Glasgow? Why do you want to put up borders along the English channel?

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 16, 2015 at 9:40 PM

      I think the English Channel is a natural border and workers in Le Harve are different they live in France. So why do you want Scotland that has a natural border with England to seperate from the Union when you consider we are all inbred now. Are you sure the workers Le Harve have a class struggle? I thought the French had Liberty, Egality and Fraternity. That is why they are being killed by IS.

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    3. The competition is stiff, but I think that's probably your most offensive comment to date.

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  7. Bella needs to wake up and smell the coffee as following its advice will only result in unionist leaders laughing all the way to the polling booths at the prospect of getting seats through wasted votes for RISE.

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  8. The Scottish National Party is a centre left social democratic party whose central policy is independence.That suits me.I like their policies.Theyll be getting both my votes because they are the vehicle that will take us to independence.RISE are a far left grouping who have very little appeal.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 16, 2015 at 10:22 PM

      No they are right wing Tories who will not tax the rich unfreeze the council tax. Will not reverse Tory policies on public transport. Liars and con merchants.

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    2. Eat your cereal

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  9. What a lot of drivel is posted here...it's perfectly possible to err on the side of caution and vote snp unless you think they won't win on the list and then vote tactically on the list particularly some regions. I think ma yin of mid Scotland and fife is just that... James I predict snp win every seat in mid Scotland and fife on the constituency and none on the list. Care to disagree.... A tenner wager on the scotgoespop hot chocolate fundraiser? My crowd funded tenner is jam goes deuchers ipa...feel free of course not to but I think if we're clever in some areas we can add a bit by getting a unionist here and there off the list....so wait and see but open mindedness is key..

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    1. Sigh. The whole point is that I don't know how many constituency seats the SNP will win, and neither do you. You're not talking about tactical voting, you're talking about gambling voting. Taking a punt on a hunch.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 16, 2015 at 10:26 PM

      James, I suspect you may have doubts about these SNP con merchants, just a feeling in ma watter.
      You never did get back in that H of L and Vatican discussion.

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    3. In what way did you want me to get back to you? There's not much comment I can make on your brilliant insight that the Holy See's ambassadors are a) unelected and b) quite religious.

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 16, 2015 at 11:20 PM

      Any way you want James however if you have the spare time to read a comment I made on Shiraz Socialist Blob tonight regarding the Paris massacre. Comment No10 regarding Nicola Sturgeon then please read it. I would welcome your response.

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    5. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 16, 2015 at 11:28 PM

      James you could have said and what I was expecting you to say was that both are irrelevant, undemocratic and should disband voluntarily.

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    6. Wrong James I know snp will win every constituency seat in mid Scotland and fife that's why I'll wager a tenner to your hot chocolate fund vs my jam goes deuchars ipa or a stellafella fund...every constituency seat snp and nane on the list

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    7. But that's not all you need to "know", is it? You also need to know that the SNP will fail to win a list seat even if you and other like-minded "tactical" people vote for them, and that the Greens (or whichever small party you plan to vote for on the list) will not fall short of taking a seat. Are you claiming to "know" all that?

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    8. Nope the last bit on the list is the bit you need to think on....if snp look very high on the list and specifically in my region then I'll vote snp... I'll err on them so tae speak..but if I think they win none on it in my area which is my current opinion I'll vote to keep out a unionist....in my region that vote is green. I don't think it's a big deal to be honest as lots of pro yes votes and seats and probably quite a few more with a small risk here and there...you haven't really addressed the inability to predict it that well argument and neither has reverend stu...No worries vote as you will I'm def snp first vote and we'll see for the 2nd....my approach suits me and I'm satisfied I can come to a relatively informed conclusion....there is a wealth of information out there to help us inform it imperfect no doubt but this very blog talks about polls and their imperfections....we know this and I will err with snp unless I think nae chance on the list...I think at the moment...mid Scotland and fife is one of those areas...

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    9. "you haven't really addressed the inability to predict it that well argument and neither has reverend stu."

      I don't actually know what you're referring to. The "inability to predict it that well" argument sounds like my argument, not yours. I'm also slightly baffled as to how you plan to judge whether the SNP look high on the list "specifically in my region", because the polls are national. Canvassing data?

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  10. and don't forget in all of this.....

    Westminster fears an SNP majority at Holyrood, it won't fear a party that struggles to get policies through because it no longer commands a majority....

    It will be heralded everywhere in and on the MSM... "SNP (aka Independence) vote collapses... and with it the hopes of the Separatists"

    A united front by Indy supporters at the ballot box until we get there, empowers us and gives us a certain position of strength.

    We can vote for whoever we want when we get there, but lets not blow it before we do...

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  11. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 17, 2015 at 12:01 AM

    James, best laugh at the weekend was from the Herald, the article about a 10,000 Celik fan petition wanting rid of a board member fae the House of Lords who voted for getting rid of the tax credits. My mrs commented, are they all socialist or are their season tickets going to be unafordable.

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    1. Eat your cereal, disgusting troll.

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  12. I for one would welcome smaller parties like the SSP, Solidarity, Greens etc. having seats in Holyrood to bring new ideas and skew the parliament further to the left.

    However, I have to say I only see the point of this in an independent Scottish parliament where we have full control over all policies.

    Independence has to be the primary goal and the only route to that is voting SNP in both votes.

    When RISE, Solidarity, SSPs & Greens talk of second votes to increase the number of indy supporting MSPs, it raises some concerns and make me less likely to vote for them.

    And don't get me wrong, I'm not a member of the SNP (or any other party) trying to increase the vote of my preference - in fact, when we get our independence I do not intend to vote SNP again.

    But it has to be SNP on all votes until we get independence.

    And even if second votes does not result in more SNP MSPs, any rise in the SNP support in the second vote would be a strong signal that Scotland is not happy with the current state of affairs and rejects the Scotland Bill, and can only move us closer to Indyref2.

    The political ambitions and egos of some people need to be put aside until they can have real influence in a parliament that is not fighting with it's hands tied behind it back.

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  13. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 17, 2015 at 12:41 AM

    Ian Scott, Marxist ideas are not new but very old and millions have died because of those idea's.

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    1. Millions have also died because troll's dont seem to know where to put their apo'strophe's.

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    2. I never mentioned Marx, but perhaps that shows your limited understanding of left wing politics. I'll grant you that Marx is an important figure, but he is by no means the be all and end all of left wing thinking.

      And how many people are dying right now, and will continue to die, because of right wing Neoliberalism?

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    3. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 17, 2015 at 2:45 AM

      How could a Nat si understand left wing politics? When you are right wing.

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    4. Wow, what a simplistic and prejudicial view of Scottish independence you have.

      Independence is not about flag waving xenophobic nationalism.

      Independence is simply about democracy, about having the power to determine our own future by getting the government we vote for, who have the power to implement the policies we vote for.

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  14. The only way a list party would ever get enough support from SNP voters is if it was officially blessed by the SNP, and that isn't going to happen given the good candidates standing for the SNP list, and the fact there is no complacency for picking up most constituency seats, especially so far away.

    Perhaps if the Greens and RISE merged, they might have more of a chance of picking up a few seats. Their policies seem pretty similar.

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    1. That the left should amalgamate has been cried from the rooftops forever. That it sees it's own internal divisions as more important than presenting a united front has been it's tactical failure. At least, for as long as I can remember.

      I voted SSP once upon a time. For it to be that party that disintegrated over alleged sexual behaviour is one of the ironies of our age. Nowadays you can expect the entire media to bring down the shutters on allegations of far worse conduct. Especiallly if members of mainstream parties are accused.

      I think the most important legacy of the independence campaign, so far, has been to remove the blinkers from a huge proportion of the electorate.

      Politicians are not heros', Politicians are no better or worse than you or I. Indeed, because of the protection that they are given from contact with the electorate, they start to believe that whatever they think is true.

      Classic example is Tony Blair prior to Iraq War 2. Had he not helicoptered away from the SECC that day, he would have seen for himself that your average Joe and Josephene thought his policies crazy. But, in the bubble that was his brain, continuing fealty to the wonderful George Bush was more important to him than mere electoral discontent. He scorned us, and rightly and eventually, we reacted. I think a lot of eyes were opened that day. For me, at least, it was the day the left disintegrated. Claiming to be left when you are in fact a right wing war monger is a wolf in sheeps clothing event.

      Nowt much wrong with left wing, or liberal sentiments. It is just unfortunate that they are abducted by charlatans.

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  15. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 17, 2015 at 2:56 AM

    Iam, you must be the new pretend socialist on the block, without Marx and Tam Sheridan et all. But do ensure your punctuation is correct or James will give you a spanking.

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    1. Eat your cereal, disgusting troll.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 17, 2015 at 7:52 PM

      So was Tony Blair responsible for the 1995 Paris Metro bombings by Islamists!

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  16. It seems that some of the advocates of indy tactical voting base their arguments on the dangerous assumption that another SNP majority in 2016 is a shoe-in. NO IT IS NOT! The voting system at Holyrood was designed specifically to prevent an SNP majority. 2011 was a freak result, akin to a lightning strike. The way the dice fell. The chances of it happening again? Who knows. There are so many twists and turns with the d'Hondt system. We can but try and maximise the chance by voting SNP/SNP unless you have strong Green/SSP leanings. Lighting can strike twice, but don't bank on it.

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    1. If it was so designed then why are there a majority of constituency seats making it more like fptp and thus giving snp a majority on 45% in 2011...the reason is you are talking out of a hole on your arse..

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    2. Please stop being abusive. Under ANY proportional representation system, it is possible to win a majority with less than 50% of the vote. That does not make the system "like FPTP". The German variant of AMS is superior to ours in that constituencies do not make up the majority of seats, but on the other hand ours is arguably superior in the sense that there is no artificial threshold for representation.

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    3. It was not specifically so designed. If it was specifically so designed it would be the worst design ever making it far easier to get a majority than by the percentage of votes obtained. It's complete rubbish and no amount of window dressing about comparative systems can hide that glaring reality.

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  17. In Germany federal elections a variant of the d'Hondt AMS system is used. There the list vote is considered more important ie First vote and where you should definitely vote for the Party you wish to prevail ( the percentage on list basically determines the final percentage of seats any Party gets. The Constituency vote is very much the "second" vote. Admittedly in Germany it is a more even split between List and Constituency seats but the principle remains. Here we are fixated on the Constituency seat with list very much second place, mainly because of our heritage of FPTP voting.

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