An Ordinary Election

Electoral Reform Society
Author:
Electoral Reform Society

Posted on the 28th February 2013

Andrew Burns, Labour Leader of Edinburgh City Council

On Thursday the 3rd May 2012, I was elected for the fourth time to represent a Ward within the City of Edinburgh Council area. It was a real privilege to be given local residents’ trust once again, and I’ll do all I can to repay that over my term.

That election was the second time that Edinburgh – and the rest of Scotland – used the proportional, Single Transferable Vote (STV) system to elect its Local Councillors. The first two elections I took part in (in 1999 and 2003) were under the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system.

And by 2003, the last time I was elected under FPTP, I was part of a ruling Council Administration that had 55% of the seats – therefore an outright majority – on only 27% of the votes!

Being partisan for a second, that was obviously great, but as a democrat I found it pretty near impossible to defend.

So – as someone who has always been a long-standing supporter of fair votes – I was delighted to eventually be elected by that proportional system in 2007. It led to 5-Parties being represented on the Council and a much fairer balance of Councillors between those Parties. I say that, even though it led to the following 5-years, being years in Opposition for my Party and I, that’s democracy!

Last year the use of STV really has become quite, quite normal for electors in Edinburgh. I witnessed no difficulties amongst voters using the system, and everyone (literally) I have spoken to understands perfectly well how to cast their votes … after all, it really is as simple as 1,2,3!

Not only was re-elected, but I’m now leading a Labour-SNP Coalition which will help run the City of Edinburgh for the next 4-years. On a personal level, I’m obviously delighted.

But, much more importantly, as a democrat I can easily defend last year’s results as 5-parties once again have their fair share of councillors in accordance with the support they received from the voting public.

Thursday the 3rd May 2012 really was an ordinary election, in every way.

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