Monthly Archives: May 2011

Referendum on the AV system

Tomorrow is voting day in the UK to vote for or against the proposed Alternative Vote (AV) system.

The public is being asked whether they want to replace the existing method of first-past-the-post (FPTP) system of electing Members of Parliament (MP) to Westminster with the alternative vote system.

Under the FPTP system , the candidate who gets the maximum number of votes wins and is elected as the MP of his constituency.

Voters will be asked the question, “At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead? Yes or No?”

The votes will be counted at 1600 BST on 6 May, a day after the poll.

What is Alternative Vote?

Under the AV system, voters can rank candidates in the order of preference. The number of preferences is unlimited.  However, only the first preference will be counted initially and the candidate with more than 50% majority is automatically elected.

If a candidate in unable to secure 50% of the votes, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated. Votes for that candidate will be redistributed according to voters’ second preferences. There will then be a second round of counting. Again if a candidate is unable to secure 50% of the votes, another candidate with the least number of votes will be eliminated and a third round of counting will begin. This process will continue until one candidate gets more than 50% of the votes.

AV is currently being only is three countries in the world – Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

For AV

With the current system of first-past-the-post, there are times when a candidate with the highest number of votes wins with less than 50% support of voters. Thus candidates will have to work harder in order to win with a larger margin.

Smaller and lesser known parties will benefit from AV as they could be a second choice rather than not being considered from the beginning.

Against AV

If 50% of votes are not achieved in the first round of counting, the counting will continue until a candidate achieves it. This process is only complicated but also time consuming.

The FPTP system is considered as a fair form of election. All parties release their manifestos and voters vote for the candidate, party and manifesto that appeals to them the most. The person with the maximum number of votes wins while unpopular candidates are voted out. Thus, the winner takes it all.

The change of the AV system is estimated to cost Britain about £250m as local councils will have to buy new electronic voting machines and launch voter education campaigns.

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Is Osama Bin Laden really dead?

Osama Bin Laden was on the FBI’s list of 10 Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists.

The US had been attempting to capture Bin Laden since his involvement in the US embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

Furthermore, he has been involved in other militant activities like the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia through his connections with the Al-Qaeda of which he is the leader.

Attempted capture

Capturing Bin Laden has been on the US agenda since over a decade. Since the mastermind of the attacks went into hiding, the US government appealed to the Taliban government of the Afghanistan for trial or for extradition. US Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama have all launched search operations to apprehend Bin Laden and bring him to the USA for trial.

Bin Laden was allegedly sighted several times during the last decade in areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tora Bora was a suspected hideout of Bin Laden.

Is he really dead?

There have been reports over the years that Bin Laden has been found dead due to natural causes or has been killed. They were however, mere rumours.

On May 1 2011, US President Barack Obama announced that the US conducted a search operation that killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan.

However, DNA samples were used to match the person believed to be Osama Bin Laden. The burial at sea less than a day after he death raises further doubts about the credibility of the official announcement made by Barack Obama. Where are the pictures? Where is the evidence that the person who was killed was indeed Osama Bin Laden? How do we ensure that any pictures released in the near future are not “Photoshopped”?

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