If AV wins in Scotland but not the UK…

Tomorrow (Thursday) there’s a referendum on whether to use AV for elections to the the UK parliament.

It’s entirely possible that Scotland will vote yes to this, but the UK as a whole will vote no. If that happens, it would make sense for Scotland to consider using AV for constituency elections to its own parliament. Admittedly, the referendum is for the UK parliament, not the Scottish one, but if people favour AV for one, they probably also favour AV for the other.

As a way of choosing one candidate, AV is a better system that FPTP, so it would make a good deal of sense if Scottish constituencies were elected this way. While we’re at it, we could use preference voting to elect the regional seats in Scotland, too — this would work a bit like STV, except that the voters would be voting for lists instead of candidates. And since local elections in Scotland also use preference voting (STV in full council elections, AV in by-elections), this would mean that all Scottish elections would now use preference voting.

Also on Thursday, Scotland elects its parliament. According to opinion polls, the SNP will do very well, getting just short of a majority of seats.

Would Alex Salmond support AV for the Scottish Parliament? Possible reasons why he might are that the SNP are in favour of AV for Westminster and that it would emphasize the distinctiveness of Scotland within the UK. A possible reason he might be against would be if the SNP would lose seats under AV — but since they probably wouldn’t, this reason wouldn’t hold. Salmond might also favour AV to cause an argument with the UK government: changing the voting system for the Scottish Parliament requires permission from the UK government, and it’s unlikely (to say the least!) that Cameron would have any enthusiasm for doing this. If Cameron is against it, Salmond could present Cameron as thwarting the will of the Scottish people, and himself as fighting for them.

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