Electoral Systems

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th October 2008.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 2:30 pm, 28th October 2008

The right hon. Gentleman and I probably have slightly different views. [ Interruption . ] I may have an entirely open mind, but I have reached a settled conclusion on the system of electing coalitions of the kind that they have in Austria, which led to deadlock and a failure of the electors to express their opinions, in Israel, which leads to continual and repeated elections, in New Zealand, where the introduction of proportional representation led to a decline in turnout, and in Norway, where proportional representation is blamed for causing political disengagement by preventing voters from being able to turf out Governments. So far, therefore, I have not been convinced. As for Scotland, it is of course true that the party of which I am honoured to be a member has introduced in manifestos, and therefore in legislation, some forms of proportionality in elections—not to this place but to other assemblies. I note that one commentator, Mr. Simon Jenkins, pointed out in The Guardian last year:

"The Lib Dems are proving that they cannot work a system to which they have hitched their wagon for half a century."

He concluded:

"It is surely time for the Lib Dems to fold their tent and go."

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