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July-August 2010

British coalition preps for 2011 voting reform referendum

Jesse Mintz

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) to Downing Street for their first day of coalition government on May 12, 2010 in London, England. After a tightly contested election campaign and five days of negotiation a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government has been confirmed (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Previously in our special week on electoral reform: Parliament needs women and proportional representation is the solution (to which this article was a sidebar); and our interview with Judy Rebick.

Electoral reform is on the agenda in the U.K. following the May election that saw the creation of the first British coalition government in more than 60 years. As his price for joining David Cameron’s Conservatives, Liberal Democrat party leader nick Clegg has demanded a referendum on voting practices.

The published coalition agreement between Conservatives and Lib-dems reads: “The parties will bring forward a referendum bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the alternative vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies.”

Clegg has assumed personal responsibility for the push for electoral reform, and early signs are promising. There will certainly be compromises—probably more so than Clegg would like—but the Lib-dems now find themselves off the sidelines and in a position to make good on their rhetorical claims to the greatest British reform movement since 1832.

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