I have explained already here why the proposed Alternative Vote (AV) voting system is a bad idea. In fact even its chief proponent, Nick Clegg, described it as a “miserable little compromise”. So do we need reform and if so what system would be best?
The critics of First Past the Post (FPTP) say that it disproportionately favours the big parties and that small parties do not get the representation that their voters’ support deserves. It is a winner takes all system. The critics of Proportional Representation (PR) say that it achieves exactly the opposite, that small parties end up with disproportionate amounts of power as they act as king makers in coalition governments. And certainly real world experience in countries like Israel and Germany support this view.
So what the Economist is proposing is a hybrid voting system where some of the seats are FPTP and some are PR. To bring a balance that in government would be a fairer reflection of the voters intentions than either system can provide on its own.
It just so happens that the hybrid system is already in use, by the Scottish Parliament (Pàrlamaid na h-Alba). Here 73 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) are elected by FPTP and 56 by PR. The Economist, based on the experience in Scotland, thinks that these proportions are not quite right and that a fairer system would be 80% FPTP and 20% PR.
Certainly to me this looks like a far fairer and more workable reform than those proposed elsewhere.