Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Non-representative democracy

When the winners are in charge of choosing a voting system, why would they change what worked for them?

Election result is ‘nail in the coffin’ of first-past-the-post voting system
Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system has been declared broken and unfit for an era of multiparty politics as analysis of general election figures showed that it had delivered the least proportional result in the country’s history…

Data compiled by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) for the Observer… said that 24.2% of seats in parliament were now held by MPs who would not be there if a proportional voting system were in place. The previous record highest figure was 23% in 1983, when the former SDP suffered from first-past-the-post. In 2010 the figure was 21.8%…

Its analysis showed that, of almost 31 million people who voted, 19 million (63% of the total) did so for losing candidates. Out of 650 winning candidates, 322 (49%) won less than 50% of the vote.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the ERS… “The Conservatives have won a majority in parliament on not much more than a third of the vote. So while the prospect of a hung parliament has receded, the problems with our voting system have remained in the foreground.

“It cannot be right that it takes 26,000 votes to elect an MP from one party and almost four million to elect an MP from another. Millions will have woken up on Friday morning to find their voices effectively haven’t been heard. At a time when more and more people are turning away from politics, our broken voting system is making it worse…

“One of the features of our broken voting system is that it accentuates divides. For instance, those who vote Conservative in Scotland have gone almost unrepresented, as have Labour voters in rural southern constituencies or Conservative voters in northern urban seats. The UK is at a constitutional crossroads, so the last thing we need is a voting system that pits nations and regions against each other…"

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