Britain unveils plans for electoral change

July 5th, 2010 - 11:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 5 (DPA) A much-heralded referendum on changing Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system will be held next May, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced Monday.
Voting reform, a key Liberal condition for joining a Conservative-led coalition after the May 6 elections, will be accompanied by a reform of constituency boundaries and a reduction by 50 of the seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of parliament.

Legislation to be tabled before the summer recess would also confirm the introduction of fixed terms of parliament in Britain.

The five-year parliamentary term will end in May, 2015, with elections set for May 7, 2015.

The number of seats in the House of Commons will be reduced from 650 to 600, saving 12 million pounds ($18 million) a year, said Clegg.

If a change in the voting system to the Alternative Vote (AV) is approved in the referendum, the next election would be held under the new rules.

Under the AV system, voters rank candidates in order of preference, and anyone receiving more than 50 percent in the first round is elected.

The Conservatives have already pledged to oppose the introduction of the AV system in their campaign, making the referendum issue the first real test of strengths for the coalition, the first in Britain in 70 years.

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