representation in today's regional assemblies white paper, but analysis by
the society suggests that the voting system proposed by the government will
hand seats to the BNP in the North West and potentially other regions.
'We welcome the commitment to PR,' said Ken Ritchie, chief executive of the
Electoral Reform Society. 'There is no point in having regional assemblies
that are not inclusive and do not provide a legitimate voice for all of the
'However, we are surprised at the choice of the Additional Member System
(AMS). It suggests a lack of clear thinking on the part of those who drafted
this white paper and a lack of understanding of the different PR systems.
'The AMS system would allow a party receiving around 3% of the votes to get
a seat. In the light of recent results, the BNP has shown their potential to
win over 10% of votes across wide areas of the North West and so would have
a very strong chance of winning one or more seats.
'With a voting system that so favoured them, the BNP would also be able to
expand their efforts into other regions as new assemblies were created and
would stand a very high chance of gaining seats in these too.
'BNP leader Nick Griffin recently stated that his party would be fielding
candidates in the Scottish parliament elections next May. He said that the
AMS system used there meant his party had a very good chance of gaining
'In London, the government introduced an artificial 5% threshold to stop the
BNP winning seats. It had no effect on the BNP who scored just 1%, but
stopped the Christian People's Alliance from winning a seat. An artificial
threshold would not stop the BNP in the North West if they continue to poll
'A better system all round would be the Single Transferable Vote (STV). This
system gives voters far more choice and still gives broad proportionality
between the parties.
'Because it works in 3-5 member constituencies, candidates need at least 18%
of the vote to be elected. Although the BNP could score around 10% in large
areas, this would not be enough to be elected on first preferences and they
are highly unlikely to receive transfers from voters for more mainstream