UK Labour Promises Vote On Electoral Reform

Sept. 29, 2009, midnight

In a new Labour Party manifesto released on Tuesday, Prime Minister Gordon BROWN pledged a referendum on electoral reform if voters return his party to the majority in Parliamentary elections due by June 2010. Labour has lagged behind the Conservatives in most opinion polls over the last 12 months. Reform activists, including a coalition of minor parties, are critical of the referendum promise on several counts. They argue the proposed move from first-past-the-post (FPP) elections to the alternative vote, rather than to proportional representation (PR), will not significantly change legislative dynamics in the UK. Many doubt Labour's commitment to the referendum, moreover, noting that the party could pass reforms now, while in the majority, rather than wait for a new mandate. Further, they note that Labour promised a referendum on proportional representation in 1997, which it did not hold. Conservatives in Britain, expected by many to win the next elections, remain officially committed to the FPP system, though a splinter group supports PR.

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