Political

Strong public support for electoral reform, weekend voting and fixed term Parliaments in new poll

The public overwhelmingly backs major  changes to the way our electoral system is run according to a new poll commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

Just under two-thirds of people (65%) agree that, “This country should adopt a new voting system that would give parties seats in Parliament in proportion to their share of votes” and 59% support holding a referendum on changing the voting system used for Parliament. That later number is particularly strong given Gordon Brown’s strong support for the idea; usually having an unpopular high profile figure back a policy makes it less popular.

But the strongest support (69%) comes for introducing the idea of ‘recall’ – allowing constituents to sack their MP and force a new election if enough people sign a petition. Fixed-term Parliaments also get strong support from the public with 64% agreeing with the idea and just 13% disagreeing.

Over half the public (54% – 21%) also support moving voting to weekends, a policy recently pushed by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Rennard and one the Electoral Commission is keen to see considered. (Weekend voting was also the cause of surely one of the most reassuring lines ever to appear in a government consultation document.)

Elections to the upper chamber also win public support, although the most popular option is a mix of elected and non-elected members:

  • A mixture of elected and appointed members, with more than half of them elected: 34%
  • A wholly elected second chamber: 27%
  • A mixture with a third of the members elected and two thirds appointed: 14%
  • Don’t know: 25%

Lowering the voting age to 16 is heavily opposed (70% – 17%).

The results are from the State of the Nation Survey 2010, a new poll of 2,288  people aged 18+ conducted by ICM for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust 20 January – 7 February.

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