Lots of voters don’t understand AMS

I just had a look at the number of constituency and list votes in each region, and I have to conclude that lots of voters (and in particular Lib Dem supporters) don’t understand how the Additional Member System (AMS) works.

Basically the constituency vote is used to elect a local candidate, but the result is normally subtracted from the list result. This means that there’s really no point in giving your constituency vote to a small party (unless you’re a party activist or are related to the candidate).

If everybody understood the system, you would therefore expect the large parties (in particular the SNP, but in some places also the Conservatives and Labour) to be getting more constituency votes than list votes, and the opposite should hold for the smaller parties.

However, if you look at the figures below, this simply isn’t the case. Pro-independence voters seem to be clued up, because the SNP consistently got more constituency votes than list votes, and the opposite holds for the Greens (but then, they didn’t stand in most seats), but look at the three main Unionist parties: The Lib Dems and Labour consistently got more first votes than second votes, even in regions where they didn’t have any hope of winning a seat directly. The Tories, on the other hand, got more list votes than constituency votes (except for in the South Scotland region), although they probably had a better hope of winning a few seats.

This was very lucky for the SNP and the Greens, but it does surprise me that Labour and the Lib Dems fail to understand a system they put in place themselves.

Party Const. List Diff.
Central Scotland
CON 42456 43602 -1146
GRN 1612 12722 -11110
LAB 76096 67103 8993
LD 7241 5015 2226
SNP 142585 129082 13503
UKIP 0 6088 -6088
Glasgow
CON 28906 29533 -627
GRN 6916 23398 -16482
LAB 70378 59151 11227
LD 9568 5850 3718
SNP 128443 111101 17342
UKIP 0 4889 -4889
Highlands and Islands
CON 39493 44693 -5200
LAB 24246 22894 1352
LD 47465 27223 20242
SNP 91088 81600 9488
GRN 0 14781 -14781
UKIP 0 5344 -5344
Lothian
CON 67837 74972 -7135
GRN 4644 34551 -29907
LAB 84975 67991 16984
LD 29095 18479 10616
SNP 137996 118546 19450
UKIP 0 5802 -5802
Mid Scotland and Fife
CON 68272 73293 -5021
LAB 58945 51373 7572
LD 29070 20401 8669
SNP 133639 120128 13511
GRN 0 17860 -17860
UKIP 0 5345 -5345
North East Scotland
CON 85332 85848 -516
LAB 44515 38791 5724
LD 26843 18444 8399
SNP 148423 137086 11337
GRN 0 15123 -15123
UKIP 0 6376 -6376
South Scotland
CON 104816 100753 4063
LAB 64638 56072 8566
LD 12852 11775 1077
SNP 129064 120217 8847
GRN 0 14773 -14773
UKIP 0 6726 -6726
West Scotland
CON 64732 71528 -6796
LAB 90468 72544 17924
LD 16104 12097 4007
SNP 148659 135827 12832
GRN 0 17218 -17218
UKIP 0 5856 -5856

4 thoughts on “Lots of voters don’t understand AMS

  • 09/05/2016 at 07:46
    Permalink

    Given that the method chosen was supposed to favour the then ruling party (Labour) and not be truly proportionally democratic, a complete reform of the system should be carried out.
    1. The voting should be national.
    2. Votes cast should be calculated as a percentage of the electorate, not of the turnout.
    3. If 52% of the electorate don’t vote, 52% of the seats should remain vacant.
    Maybe someone with nous could crunch the numbers of the constituency votes + those extra list votes for the smaller parties and see what kind of a parliament we would have then. Sorry, I am too busy myself.

    Reply
    • 09/05/2016 at 16:08
      Permalink

      There seems to be an unwritten rule that every proposal for voting system reform should include at least one headscratcher of an idea, in this case a parliament the size of which is determined by turnout.

      Reply
  • 09/05/2016 at 10:14
    Permalink

    Point 3 Above.

    What a bonkers idea.

    IF there were to be an “empty chair” party on the list, AND people turned out to vote for it, THEN it would be reasonable for the appropriate number of seats to remain empty in the chamber.

    Otherwise, if people don’t care enough to vote, they don’t care about who sits in the parliament.

    Reply
  • 09/05/2016 at 16:10
    Permalink

    “there’s really no point in giving your constituency vote to a small party”

    This is a long-standing feature of FPTP – people still vote for their candidate of choice even when that candidate is likely to lose. It has no effect on the list calculation though.

    Reply

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