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The Independent Commission on the Voting System, popularly known as the Jenkins Commission after its chairman Roy Jenkins, was a commission into possible reform of the United Kingdom electoral system.[1]


The commission

The commission was set up in December 1997 by the Labour government with the support of the Liberal Democrats, to investigate alternatives to the First Past the Post electoral system used for general elections. A referendum was planned on whether to change the voting system. The commission reported in September 1998 and suggested the Alternative vote top-up or AV+ system, which would directly elect some MPs by the alternative vote, with a number of additional members elected from top up lists similarly to mixed member proportional representation. A Single Transferable Vote system was considered by the commission, but rejected on the grounds that it would require massive constituencies of around 350,000 electors resulting in an oppressive degree of choice, (ie. too many candidates to choose from.) Also, the counting of votes in STV is "incontestably opaque" and different counting systems can produce different results. Finally, Jenkins rejected STV because it was a different system from those used in European and devolved parliaments, as well as the London Assembly.

Actions taken from the commission

No action was taken to change the electoral system.


Manifesto promises

Labour's manifesto[2] in 1997 had stated its original position as:

We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. An independent commission on voting systems will be appointed early to recommend a proportional alternative to the first-past-the-post system.

By 2001[3], following the Jenkins' Commission however, the Labour manifesto now stated:

We will review the experience of the new systems (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and the Jenkins report to assess whether changes might be made to the electoral system for the House of Commons. A referendum remains the right way to agree any change for Westminster.

And in the 2005 manifesto, reference to the Jenkins Report itself (Jenkins had died in 2003) was dropped:

Labour is committed to reviewing the experience of the new electoral systems — introduced for the devolved administrations, the European Parliament and the London Assembly. A referendum remains the right way to agree any change for Westminster.

See also


  1. ^ "Report of the Independent Commission on the Voting System". Retrieved 2009-05-25.  
  2. ^ "1997 Labour Party Manifesto -". Retrieved 2009-05-25.  
  3. ^ "2001 Labour Party Manifesto -". Retrieved 2009-05-25.  


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