Voting is underway in an historic referendum on UK electoral reform.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, who are in a coalition with the Conservatives, are pushing for a ‘yes’ for change from the current First Past the Post system to Alternative Vote.
“Well obviously I hope on an important day like this that lots of people will take the opportunity to get stuck in and join in the referendum on our voting system to make our politics a bit better and a bit fairer,” Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said.
AV is seen as more favourable to smaller parties, but Britons are expected to reject change sticking with the long-established voting system.
At one polling station in Richmond, Surrey, one voter against reform said: “I voted for ‘no’ because I like a strong government.”
Another declared: “I voted ‘no’ because I think it’s a simple system which has served us well.”
The referendum was part of the pact the Lib Dems agreed with the Conservatives for going into coalition.
One voter who supported change said: “I voted for AV. I’d have preferred a more proportional system but I think this is the first step and I think it’s an important step to take.”
Possible reform on the way MPs are elected has left the Prime Minister’s coalition on slippery ground. David Cameron’s conservatives are strongly opposed to any change with the issue becoming a real source of tension between the two ruling parties.
Even though Clegg himself described AV as a “miserable little compromise” the Lib Dems have accused the conservatives and the ‘No Campaign’ of exploiting his current unpopularity. The enmity generated has led to the biggest rift in the year long coalition so far with fears it may now be in jeopardy.