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THE AMS IN SCOTLAND What are its advantages and disadvantages?

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Presentation on theme: "THE AMS IN SCOTLAND What are its advantages and disadvantages?"— Presentation transcript:

1 THE AMS IN SCOTLAND What are its advantages and disadvantages?

2 AIMS OF PRESENTATION This presentation looks at How the Additional Member System (AMS) voting system works in Scotland Advantages of AMS Criticisms of AMS

3 AMS VOTING SHOULDN’T BE COMPLICATED Voters place an “X” on the constituency ballot paper for the party/individual they want to voter for Voters then place an “X” on the regional ballot paper for the party they want to vote for Should be dead simple..

4 VOTERS HAVE TWO TYPES OF MSP A Constituency MSP Example of Helen Eadie (Lab),Cowdenbeath Several Regional “list” MSPs, example of Mid-Scotland and Fife Claire Baker, Lab Annabelle Ewing, SNP Murdo Fraser, Con John Park, Lab Willie Rennie, Lib Dem Richard Simpson, Lab Liz Smith, Con

5 ADVANTAGE 1: GIVES SMALLER PARTIES A CHANCE? The AMS gives smaller parties a chance of representation. In Scottish elections small parties and independents have all been elected. Surely this is only fair? If 5% of voters vote Green, why should the Greens not have 5% of the representation?

6 GOOD FOR SMALL PARTIES? But the AMS is not always “good for small parties”. It depends on how popular they are. The ‘rainbow parliament’ of 2003 has failed to be replicated since. In 2011 the Greens were squeezed out by the rise of the SNP. The Scottish Socialists imploded as its leader, Tommy Sheridan, formed a breakaway party after his court appearance. In 2011, the expected resurgence of George Galloway’s political career failed to materialise after he failed to get elected on the Glasgow list.

7 BUT GOOD FOR THE CONSERVATIVES! Arguably, the AMS saved the Scottish Conservatives from political extinction. It is one of the great ironies of Scottish politics that the Conservatives originally opposed both the Scottish Parliament, and its voting system! In 1999, all 18 of the Conservatives MSPs were from the second, List vote. There were none elected from the FPTP constituencies In 2003, the Conservatives managed to have three MSPs elected from constituencies, but the other fifteen were from the second, List vote. In 2007, Only four of the 17 Conservative seats are from FPTP constituencies. In 2011, there was a slight decline in support, but still enough votes there to enable the Scottish Conservatives to be the 3 rd largest party in the Scottish Parliament with 15 MSPs.

8 ADVANTAGE 2 AN END TO ONE PARTY DOMINATION? In 1999 and 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, Labour won the most seats but did not have an overall majority. Labour and the Liberal Democrats entered into a coalition to run Scotland In 2007, the SNP won the most seats and again did not have an overall majority. It could not agree on terms for a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and has governed as a minority government on an issue by issue basis.

9 BUT NOT ANYMORE! PartyConstituency MSPs (2007 figure in brackets) Regional MSPs (2007 figure in brackets) Total (2007 figure in brackets) SNP53 (21) 16 (26) 69 (47) Labour15 (37) 22 (9) 37 (46) Cons. 3 (4) 12 (13) 15 (17) Lib Dems 2 (11) 3 (5) 5 (16) Green 0 (0) 2 (2) Other 0 (0) 1(1) In 2011, for the first time since devolution, the SNP which won a record 69 seats, securing a majority of 3 over all the other combined MSPs. This means that the SNP Scottish Government no longer needs the support of other parties to pass legislation. Politics is often full of ironies. In Scotland, a voting system designed to produce coalitions, has produced a majority government. In the UK, a voting system which traditionally delivers majorities, has produced a coalition government!

10 ADVANTAGE 3: VOTERS CAN CHOOSE WHO THEY WISH TO ENGAGE WITH Constituency MSP Cowdenbeath Regional “list” MSPs Mid-Scotland and Fife Helen Eadie (Lab) Claire Baker, Lab Annabelle Ewing, SNP Murdo Fraser, Con John Park, Lab Willie Rennie, Lib Dem Richard Simpson, Lab Liz Smith, Con

11 BUT, ARE THERE TURF WARS? MSP turf wars. Do List MSPs tread on the turf of constituency MSPs, who think of themselves as the real MSP? "Personally I would not weep any tears if the list system was done away with. I regard list MSPs as a breed, as an under-employed waste of space. They have no constituency, they have no role and they are not elected by anyone." Former Labour Minister, Brian Wilson

12 ARE SOME VOTERS UNREPRESENTED? Malcom Chisholm, MSP, Labour, Edinburgh North There are some voters in Scotland who, because of the AMS, find their views completely unrepresented. For example, if you voted SNP in Edinburgh North (12,263 did), you would have nobody elected who represented your views: your Constituency MSP would be Labour (Malcolm Chisholm) left. There are no SNP List MSPs in the Lothians region, despite 110,953 people voting SNP.

13 WHAT ABOUT “UNELECTED” MSPS? June 2007.The SNP’s Stefan Tymkewycz stands down. So Shirley-Anne Somerville replaced him! Should an MSP resign or die, the AMS does not allow for by-elections for List MSPs. So, the political party can choose whoever it wants to become the new MP. Someone who was never presented to the voters. In June 2007, SNP MSP Stefan Tymkewycz stood down as an MSP just months after being elected to Holyrood. He was replaced by Shirley-Anne Somerville as a Lothians list MSP. While Shirley-Anne Somerville may well be an excellent MSP, the fact remains that she, personally, was not elected by the voters of the Lothians! The same was the case with the SNP’s Anne McLaughlin who replaced Bashir Ahmad as Glasgow list MSP when he died in Bashir Ahmad Anne McLaughlin


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