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UK PM proposes referendum on election process

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official profile] on Tuesday proposed [transcript] a referendum to reform the nation's election system. Brown has proposed an alternative voting system in which voters would rank candidates in order of preference. He added that the change will not affect the forthcoming elections. Brown said:

If the people decide to back the alternative vote, it also offers voters increased choice with the chance to express preferences for as many of the candidates as they wish. It means that each elected MP will have the chance to be elected with much broader support from their constituency, not just those who picked them as their first choice. In short it offers a system where the British people can, if they so choose, be more confident that their MP truly represents them, while at the same time remaining directly accountable to them.

If the referendum takes place, it would be only the second referendum in the UK's history. The first, on the UK's European Communities membership, was conducted in 1975.

The House of Lords [official website] has been a target for reform for many years. In February 2009, legislation was proposed [JURIST report] that would allow the removal of lords for improper behavior. In 2007, then-UK prime minister Tony Blair pushed [JURIST report] for a half-elected, half-appointed House of Lords that removed all but 92 House members who still inherit their parliamentary seats. Proposals were initiated in 2006, with the release of a document by a cross-party working group on Lords' reform that hinted at a half-elected, half-appointed House with 450 Lords sitting in the chamber. In 2003, cabinet members rejected [BBC report] five different reform initiatives that varied from an entirely elected to entirely appointed House of Lords.

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