Britain to hold electoral reform vote next year: report

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Britain will hold a referendum on changing its voting system in May next year, the BBC reported Thursday, citing government sources.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is set to announce that a vote on introducing the Alternative Vote electoral system will be held on May 5, 2011, said the broadcaster.

Clegg indicated earlier Thursday that a statement on the public vote was imminent.

"I'm hoping to make an announcement literally in a couple of days, next week," he said when asked about the timing of the referendum.

The Conservative party agreed to hold a referendum on the voting system to persuade Clegg's Liberal Democrats to join them in forming a coalition government following May's inconclusive general election.

Voting reform has been a long-held desire of the Liberal Democrats, who believe the current first-past-the-post system is unfairly weighted against them.

But a referendum could prove divisive to the coalition. The Conservatives will campaign to keep the current system, while the Lib Dems will try to persuade voters to cast their ballots against it.

An Alternative Vote system would see voters rank candidates in order of preference.

If no one reaches 50 percent in the first round, the candidate with fewest votes is eliminated and the second choices on the ballots cast for that person are allocated to the totals of the others.

This process continues until one candidate hits 50 percent.

© 2010 AFP

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