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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, May 03, 2008

New London Mayor Is U. S. Native

The newly-elected mayor of London, England was born in the United States and says he wouldn't mind being president of the U. S. one day (he's presumably joking).

The city has used instant runoff voting (IRV) ever since the mayor's position became elective in 2000. Each voter gets two choices on the general election ballot, ensuring that the winner always gets 50-plus percent.

Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party nominee, defeated the two-term incumbent, Ken Livingstone, who is practically a communist. Livingstone was first elected in 2000 as an independent and was the Labour Party nominee in 2004 and this year.

The Conservatives had used what they called an "open primary" (that popular term) to nominate their candidate. The event worked like what we Americans call a caucus. It was open to any voter, and voters signed up in advance by mail or online. Each candidate addressed the meeting, and a vote was taken to choose the party's nominee.

The "open primary" idea was advocated by David Cameron, the Conservative leader in Parliament, and the Tories are also using it in some other races.

The Labour Party, which has been in power since 1997, had its worst showing in Britain's local elections in 40 years.

Note: The primary election is an American invention and was exclusive to the U. S. for many years. Some parties in some other democracies, however, have recently experimented with more democratic methods of nomination. In France's last presidential election, for example, the Socialist Party held a primary, for which the polls were open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Only party members could vote, and 50-plus percent was required to win. Since the woman candidate got more votes than her two male opponents combined, no runoff primary was necessary.

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