Brexit and binary choices


Sir, – The Irish and British electoral systems are very different: PR-STV (a British invention) is one of the best. First-past-the-post (FPTP) is its extreme opposite.

But we both have the same decision-making system: binary voting, one of the worst. Michael Laver points out its paradox: when there’s no majority for anything, there’s a majority against everything (“In game of Brexit chicken, Boris Johnson driving a Mini, Brussels is driving a bus, Opinion, August 15th).

But party politics is also a problem: it seems the first priority of Cameron, May and now Johnson, was/is to preserve the Tory Party. In any FPTP two-party system, the big party on either side wants a monopoly.

The Tories don’t want Ukip or its successor, the Brexit Party; hence the 2016 referendum; hence now the rush to “no deal”.

If these leaders and/or their Labour counterparts believed in pluralism, they would advocate a multi-option approach: there are after all at least three options, “remain”, the deal, and the WTO. But they want two-party politics, so they stick to binary voting. Prof Laver suggests log-rolling, but that too is binary.

Sadly, the UK’s Electoral Commission has yet to embrace preferential points voting, which identifies the option with the highest average preference . . . and an average, of course, involves every voter, not just a majority of them.

At best, therefore, such an outcome would be society’s collective will, its most acceptable compromise – a very democratic solution. – Yours, etc,



The de Borda Institute,