Let us begin by looking at the what the election for local government was, how the results stacked up, and how some people have chosen to respond – and ultimately why our defence of democracy is needed.
To quote the Electoral Reform Society
“STV (single transferable vote) is a preferential voting system which produces results that are approximately proportional to votes cast.”https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/the-power-of-preferences-stv-in-scottish-local-elections/#sub-section-3
Wikipedia offers this as an explainer, this is what will show if you search what is an STV election is.
Single transferable vote (STV) is a multi-winner ranked-choice voting method, an electoral system in which voters rank candidates according to their preferences, with their single vote transferred to other candidates based on these rankings if their preferred candidate is eliminated, so that their vote still counts.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote
What we establish here – is that coming ‘first’ or being ‘largest party’ isn’t the aim of the system.
The aim is to get any many people elected that share the views of the electorate.
The STV voting system is the preferred voting system of the party of government in Scotland, which at this time is the SNP.
So it surprised us today to see a Scottish Government minister say ‘a sad day for democracy’, following a council administration forming.
Let’s take a look at how the result stacked up, thanks to the incredible work of BallotBox Scotland and its license we can bring you this visual
The ‘issue’ seems to be the pro-Indy councillors seemed to get 28 councillors, the pro-Union councillors got 34 – and subsequently have chosen to form an administration.
This is exactly what STV is designed to do. Force people to seek coalition and understanding from likeminded others.
The SNP even decided to put forward itself for administration in minority.
67% of the vote, the majority, went to non SNP councillors, and thus democracy in action – the elected representatives rejected the SNP minority, favouring a broader represented coalition.
Much hysteria follows by politically engaged people, who know and understand voting systems and result sets compounded by the realities of coalitions. Which makes it all the more ridiculous.
This is incredible. One government minister called it a ‘sad day for democracy’. Another government minister decries the result as a ‘disgrace’.
While its always a bit horrible to see your political opponents form administration and work together against you. It is neither disgraceful or sad for democracy. This is what is supposed to happen.
Stories like this are occurring all over Scotland as administrations form and individual supporters or activists may be angry and vent.
However government ministers must hold themselves to a higher standard. We have a proportional representation system in Scotland and it has delivered its verdict. To suggest otherwise in an attempt to discredit the democratic system we sit on is callous, naive and dangerous.
We must have respect for our political opponents and the mandate they carry from their electorate. We must defend the democratic systems and institutions we are fortunate to have. You cannot rail against Scotland having governments in Westminster it did not elect if you utterly disrespect the result of the democratic elections held under proportional systems in our own councils.