10 May 2010

Will Clegg do a Layton?

During the run-up to the 2004 federal election, Jack Layton suggested he would make proportional representation a requirement for co-operation with a Liberal minority government. And well he should have. Nothing would improve the NDP's standing in the House of Commons like PR. In the 2008 election, for example, with PR the NDP would have won 50 per cent more seats. But when the Liberals did find themselves with a minority government and negotiating with the NDP began, Layton seemed to set PR aside.

Will the same thing happen with the current negotiations in the U.K.? The Liberal Democrats have been pushing hard for PR. And well they should, too. If the recent election had been run under PR, they would have increased their representation in the British House of Commons by a startling 160 per cent. That kind of incentive might just drive Liberal Democratic leader Nick Clegg to stick to his guns and demand that PR be part of any arrangement with either the Tories or Labour.

Clegg, unlike Layton, has strong support from the public. A recent survey showed electoral reform was fourth on British voters' priority list, ahead of such things as unemployment, taxation, political sleaze and climate change.

Supporters of a fair voting system for this country will be watching the negotiations in the U.K. closely, crossing their fingers that Nick Clegg will remain loyal to PR.

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