Thursday, 23 February 2012

London Mayor and GLA Elections 2012

On Thursday 3rd of May, millions of London voters will go to the polls to directly elect a Mayor and 25 Greater London Assembly (GLA) members. The current Mayor is the Tory Boris Johnson and the 25 seat London Assembly is made up of 11 Tory Members, 8 Labour Members, 3 Lib Dem Members, 2 Green Party Members and 1 British National Party (BNP) Member.

The Mayoral contest will once again be dominated by the Boris Johnson versus Ken Livingstone (Labour) contest, in which opinion polls put them running neck and neck for the prize. The Green Party candidate is Jenny Jones, who is one of the Green Party Assembly members and has served on the Assembly since 1999, the year that GLA was formed.

The ballot paper for the Mayoral election which is coloured pink, allows for a first and second preference vote. Second preference votes come into play if no single candidate gets more than 50% of the first preference vote. The top two candidates then go forward into a final round, where all the other candidates are eliminated, and their voters’ second preferences are counted. After this exercise the winning candidate is the one with the most first and second preference votes. This type of voting system is known as the ‘supplementary vote’.

The Assembly is made up of the 14 winning constituency candidates (the ballot paper is coloured yellow), where up to four London boroughs can constitute a constituency. Locally, the constituency is Enfield and Haringey, narrowly won by Labour in 2008, and the Green Party candidate is Peter Krakowiak. The other 11 Assembly members are elected from the London wide Member List (orange coloured ballot paper) on a proportional basis, using what is known as the Modified d’Hondt Formula, similar to that used for European Parliament Elections, and known as the ‘additional member’ system. This takes into account the total votes cast in the London-wide ballot together with the number of Constituency London Assembly Member seats that each political party has already won.

A party candidate needs to get 5% of the London wide Member vote to qualify to win one of these seats at least. Parties that win constituency seats (entirely Labour and Tory at the three elections since 1999), have their London Member vote divided by the number of seats already won (plus 1), and each time a party wins a London Member seat, this is added to the number dividing their vote. Phew, there you go, easy as that.

To simplify things, for parties who have not won constituency seats, 5% gets you one seat, around 8% gets you two, and around 10% gets you three, but all this depends how the votes actually fall. In 2008 the Green party secured 8.3% of the London Member vote, which yielded two seats. We expect to retain these seats this year and are hopeful of gaining a third seat. The BNP will probably lose their one seat this time, as the party seems to be in disarray but the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) may do fairly well, given the situation with events in Europe at present, although what they can offer Londoners as Assembly Members is hard to see.

If you want to see Greens elected to the London Assembly, then make sure you vote Green on the orange coloured ballot paper, as this is where we will win seats, and we can then continue to represent Londoners on green issues. For a list of Green party achievements on the Assembly, see here.

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