London: Britain`s coalition government has
announced plans for a major change in the country`s electoral
system that includes a shift from the first-past-the-post
system to an alternate voting system.
The changes are to be placed before the people in a
referendum on May 5, 2011.
The proposals include reducing the size of the House of
Commons from 650 to 600, redrawing parliamentary
constituencies to "equalise" their size, and a fixed five-year
term for governments.
This will take away the traditional power of the Prime
Minister to decide when to call a general election.
Announcing the plans in the House of Commons, Liberal
Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described
them as a "hugely significant" package of reforms that, he
claimed, would see power shift from the executive to
legislature and make the Commons more representative of the
According to Clegg, because of the variations in the size
of constituencies people were not equally represented and the
first-past-the-post system was unfair to smaller parties.
The proposed to the Alternative Voting (AV) system
require voters to rank candidates in order of preference.
A candidate getting more than 50 per cent in the first
round would be elected.
If no one gets more than 50 per cent in the first round,
the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voters`
second choices are allocated to those remaining.
The process would continue until a winner emerges.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said that his party
would ask people to vote against it in the referendum, while
political reform has been a key plan of the Liberal Democrats.