Nearly half (45%) of the British public is in favour of switching to the Alternative Voting (AV) system proposed by the Liberal Democrats, while 32% think it best to keep the current First Past The Post (FPTP) method, a survey on behalf of the Sun newspaper has found.
17% of the public did, however, say that they didn’t know which system they would choose, while six percent said they wouldn’t vote at all if a referendum was held on the issue.
Proposals to reform the current voting system look certain to be one of the biggest challenges to divide the Coalition Government since its formation on May 12th. Despite the Coalition’s polarisation on the issue of electoral reform, and the Conservatives’ staunch opposition during their electoral campaign, David Cameron conceded to accept a referendum on electoral reform as part of the Coalition agreement. It is now scheduled for May 5th 2011.
In light of this and given Deputy PM and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s support of the AV system, it comes as no surprise that 78% of Lib Dem supporters said they would support the AV option. It is interesting to note however, that the Lib Dems have more in common with Labour than they do with their Conservative coalition partners: 49% of Labour respondents would back electoral reform, compared to only 33% of Conservative supporters.
The Alternative Vote referendum will be a mini victory for Clegg, who was recently criticised for backing a VAT increase from 17.5% to 20% despite his disapproval of such a rise in the run up to the election. With the Conservatives’ acceptance of the referendum, some will argue that Clegg is showing anxious Lib Dem supporters that he is an equal partner in the coalition – an argument some may say he has yet to win. The YouGov political team will continue to track AV voting intention from now until decision time, so watch this space to see how the public’s opinion changes as the Coalition continues to develop.