Friday, May 14, 2010

British elections (continued)

I missed the end of the drama while on the plane back to Ann Arbor.

The result was a coalition of the conservatives and the liberal democrats, as described by the BBC and approved of by the Economist.

One of the promises made by the conservatives to lure the liberal democrats into a coalition was moves towards electoral reform: something like rank order voting or proportional representation. The latter is a longtime wish of the liberal democrats, as illustrated by this old advocacy video featuring John Cleese (!) from Monty Python. I think the liberal democrats will be disappointed by electoral reform in the end, if indeed they get it, when they discover that it induces general equilibrium effects in terms of party platforms and and party composition. Is there any reason, in particular, to have a party that combines classical liberals (sorta) with social democrats under either alternative voting or proportional representation?

1 comment:

Enda Hargaden said...

I come from a PR country. I think there can be advantages if one has a preference for low inter-temporal variance in policy. The Tories and Labour are on the opposite sides of the (UK-truncated) political spectrum. A FPTP change in government means a large shift in policy. A PR change in government is more likely to be e.g. Labour-Lib to Tory-Lib. Coalitions typically place constraints in policy dimensions which lower variance. That's good for people (probably the majority) whose preferences lie between the Conservatives and Labour.

The GE effects are not unambiguous. There is an incentive to take a centrist approach to appease enough voters, but there is also an incentive to adequately differentiate your party from the competition.