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THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

+ SIZE OF PARTY TICKETS POSSIBILITIES OF "PLUMP" VOTING Now that the first-past-the-post system of voting is to be used again for the municipal elections, one of the questions which each of the two major parties contesting the elections has had to decide is whether it should nomin- ■ ate full tickets of candidates or merely sufficient numbers of candidates to give it a majority on each of the local bodies. Experience of the first-past-the-post system has shown that there is sometimes an advantage to be gained from restricting the number of nominations ■ and so concentrating the total party vote among fewer candidates, giving each candidate a larger individual vote. The Labour party has ali ready announced its intention of norm- ! inating a full ticket for the Christi church City Council, but the opposing party, the Citizens' Association, has not disclosed its plans at all. The classical instance of the success of a restricted nomination, where a minority of voters actually elected a majority of representatives under the first-past-the-post system, was the Birmingham School Board election of 1871. There was a bitter contest between the dissenters, who were in a large majority in Bh-mingham, and | Church of England adherents for control !of the board. Confident of victory, the I dissenters nominated more candidates than there were seats on the board. The Church of England adherents nominated just enough candidates to secure them a majority and voted solidly for then- "ticket." Although they polled less than half the total number of votes cast, they secured the return of all their candidates and therefore a majority on the board. In order to prevent this sort of thing preferential voting for school board elections was introduced in England. A Council Majority On the Christchurch City Council, to take a case typical of the municipal bodies for which elections will be held in May, there are 16 seats. To capture nine of those seats would give either party a majority of the 17 votes of the Mayor and council. If either party was to concentrate on getting the bare majority of nine seats by nominating only nine candidates, it seems likely that the candidates' individual votes would be higher than where, say, there were 1G candidates to share approximately the same aggregate party vote. If either party, for instance, could depend on a "party" vote of 30,000, the splitting of these votes among nine candidates might reasonably be expected to give each of the candidates a larger vote than if there were 16 candidates. If the voting strengths of the parties were approximately the same, the party which had the whole of its strength concentrated on the smaller number of candidates would probably secure their return, and therefore the majority. Solid Support Needed It is obvious that such an advantage could be taken of the first-past-the-post system only where the party restricting its nominations could be sure that its supporters would vote as a body for the ticket. In Christchurch it is doubtful whether the plan would succeed, for both parties here have complained that there is a large body of electors upon whom neither can place reliance—men and women of no fixed allegiance who vote, not according to party rule, but according to their own estimate of the ability of the different candidates. Here, also, the advantage of restricted nomination might be outweighed by the tendency of electors to "idolite" as it were a few of the candidates on either side, and give them overwhelming votes. But the great difficulty in the restricted ticket plan seems to be the uncertainty of getting all the supporters of the ticket to vote for the candidates on the ticket and for no others. Some electors, after voting for the restricted ticket, might in an excess of zeal exercise their full rights and cast the balance of their votes for the other candidates, which would, of course, mean votes for the other side. But it does seem possible that if an election is fought on a clear-cut issue, and if the supporters of a party are rigidly disciplined, the adoption by it of the "plump" vote scheme might be successful. CANDIDATES FOR ELECTIONS CHOICE OF CITIZENS' ASSOCIATION The candidates of the Citizens' Association for the City Council, Lyttelton Harbour Board, and North Canterbury Hospital Board elections on May 1 will be announced after a meeting of the association this evening. The nominations which have been received will be read over and the final selection made at the meeting. It. is stated unofficially that the association has a very strong ticket for

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP19350315.2.163

Bibliographic details

THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS, Press, Volume LXXI, Issue 21423, 15 March 1935

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765

THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS Press, Volume LXXI, Issue 21423, 15 March 1935

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