The Constitution Unit


Lessons on voting reform from Britain's first PR elections


Principal Investigators: Philip Cowley, John Curtice, Stephen Lochore, Ben Seyd, Robert Hazell, Kennedy Stewart and Oonagh Gay

About the project

At the 1997 general election, Labour promised a referendum on the voting system. It established an independent commission to examine which option represented the best alternative to first past the post. The commission, chaired by Lord Jenkins, reported in October 1998, recommending the 'Alternative Vote Plus' option. Since then, there has been a concerted debate on the merits of electoral reform both inside and outside the Labour party. Beyond Westminster though, new electoral systems have become a reality. Make Votes Count and the Constitution Unit held a seminar in January 2001 to present to policy makers the findings of academic research conducted around the first wave of PR elections.

"A critical report by The Constitution Unit [suggests] that voters might not support GLA-style assemblies in regional referendums, or in turn out to vote in elections."

(Kevin Brown, Financial Times, 8 September 2001)