Britain set to reject change in voting system: poll

4th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain is set to decisively reject a change in the voting system in a referendum Thursday, a poll revealed, sparking a final push by supporters on the last day of a bitter and divisive campaign.

Some 66 percent said they wanted to retain the first-past-the-post system, where the candidate with the most votes wins, with just 34 percent backing a switch to the alternative vote (AV), a system of preference votes.

The ComRes poll for The Independent newspaper suggests opposition to any change is hardening -- a similar survey last week found support for the "no" camp at 60 percent, with 40 percent saying they would vote "yes".

It is welcome news for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who has led the campaign against AV, but will be disappointing for his coalition partners, deputy premier Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats, who have fought for the change.

The campaign has severely strained relations between the Tories and Lib Dems, one year after they formed their unlikely coalition following elections.

Clegg has in recent weeks accused the "no" camp of "lies" and Lib Dem energy minister Chris Huhne accused them of running a Nazi-like campaign, in a row that spilled over into a confrontation in Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting.

In a final flurry of campaigning Wednesday, Clegg admitted temperatures had been "high" during the campaign, but told BBC radio: "At the end of the day, this isn't about what one politician said to another."

He said: "If you want something a bit fairer, a bit better, which makes all politicians work a bit harder for your vote, then vote 'yes', vote for change."

Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband, who is backing the "yes" campaign despite his party being split on the issue, added that it was a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to change British politics.

Cameron and the "no" camp argue however that the current system is simple, fair and effective, in that it allows voters to eject unpopular governments.

During his weekly question and answer session in the House of Commons, the prime minister played down fears that the row would cause lasting damage.

"The reason for having a coalition government, coming together, sorting out this country's problems in the national interest, is as good an argument today as it was a year ago," Cameron said.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article