Monday, 28 September 2015

Electoral Reform

The current voting system is called First Past The Post [FPTP], also known as Single Member Plurality, Simple Majority Voting or Plurality Voting and has been in place since 1922.

Breakdown of the positions at the general election of 2015

Conservative [36.8%]
Labour [30.5%]
UKIP [12.7%]
Liberal Democrats [7.9%]
SNP [4.7%]
Green [3.8%]
DUP [0.6%]
Plaid Cymru [0.6%]
Sinn Féin [0.6%]
UUP [0.4%]
SDLP [0.3%]
Other [1.1%]

Let us take one example, the obvious one UKIP. Total votes cast 30,691,680, UKIP received 3,881,129 which is 12.7% and they have 1 MP. 3.8 million people feel aggrieved because their voice is not being heard.

In a time of greater political pluralism, British politics is no longer well served by a voting system that was designed for a two-party era. Nor are the interests of British democracy. Arguably the biggest democratic-deficit associated with FPTP is that election outcomes are effectively decided by a handful of voters who happen to live in all-important marginal seats. The overwhelming majority of us live in safe seats where we are increasingly neglected by the political parties both during and between elections –and where we have little chance of influencing the result of general elections.

Proportional representation [PR] is an electoral system in which the distribution of seats corresponds closely with the proportion of the total votes cast for each party. For example, if a party gained 40% of the total votes, a perfectly proportional system would allow them to gain 40% of the seats.

PR is used by more nations than single winner systems. Among the world's 35 most robust democracies with populations of at least two million people, only six use winner-take-all systems for elections to the legislative assembly (plurality, runoff or instant runoff); four use parallel systems; and 25 use PR.

PR dominates Europe, including Germany and most of northern and eastern Europe; it is also used for European Parliament elections. France adopted PR at the end of World War II, but discarded it in 1958; it was used for parliament elections in 1986. Switzerland has the most widespread use of proportional representation, which is the system used to elect not only national legislatures and local councils, but also all local executives. PR is less common in the English-speaking world; New Zealand adopted MMP in 1993, but the UK, Canada, India and Australia all use winner-take-all systems for legislative elections.

Maybe now is the time for change?

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