Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Are Open Primaries a Bit too Democratic?
I remember helping to choose Ann Coffey, our Stockport MP. Several candidates spoke their pieces and then we voted. But it was just us lot from Stockport Labour Party. Yesterday the Tories, replaced Anthony Steen- not before time I hear you think- with Sarah Wollaston. It was done though an open primary system whereby every voter in the constituency has a say in selecting who represents each party in the general election. The system is widely used in the USA where they tend to be more scrupulous about how democratic their democracy is than we are. Martin Bell and David Cameron are both in favour. And so, I think, am I but I do have my doubts.
When everyone has a vote it will tend to make the candidates more acceptable across the constituency and less likely to be extreme. On the ther hand I can see quite a few disadvantages:
1. It costs about £40,000 to run a postal primary like this.
2. Opponents can vote tactically to help select the candidate they think will lose against theirs.
3. By making candidates tooacceptable would we not produce too much homogeneity? Too much blandness? Might it not spell the end of radical voices?
Surely we want political parties to offer genuine choices to the voter?
So I'm still not sure. If we emasculate such choice at such an early stage, are we not actually diminishing democratic choice?
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