Proportional Voting Powers for UK MPs
a proposal by T L Hurst
Powers for UK MPs
a proposal by T L Hurst
There is a significant inequality in the present UK parliamentary election system between the number of MPs that are elected per party and the percentage of electors who voted for those parties. A referendum was held in the UK in May 2011 which proposed changing to an "Alternative Vote" electoral system. However, the proposal failed, and the more than two to one against result makes it unlikely that such a referendum will be repeated for a generation. Hence if we are to address this inequality, a solution is needed that does not require a change to the "First Past The Post" electoral system. This paper proposes such a system.
The Strengths of the "First Past the Post" System
A significant merit of the FPTP system is that the electorate in each constituency vote for the candidate they want to represent them. This direct link between the MP and the voters who elected him/her encourages good constituency MPs who actively represent their constituents' interests. It is good for "grass roots" democracy.
It is also claimed that the FPTP system promotes stable government, as either of the two main parties can gain an overall majority in parliament with only a minority of the vote. However this is also a weakness in that they may lack a clear mandate from the electorate.
The Weaknesses of the "First Past the Post" System
A major weakness of the FPTP system is that it disenfranchises the electorate who voted for candidates who did not win a seat. It is true that all the major parties put up candidates who are not elected, but there is a large discrepancy between the average votes per seat won for the two main parties compared to the others:
- The Conservatives averaged 34,980 votes nationally per seat won.
- Labour averaged 33,370 votes nationally per seat won. But...
- The Liberal Democrats averaged 119,944 votes nationally per seat won.
- The other parties that won seat(s) averaged 51,046 votes nationally per seat.
This can be a disincentive for electors to vote, if they expect that their preferred candidate has no likelihood of winning a seat. It can also promote tactical voting.
The Strengths of Proportional Representation
The primary merit of proportional representation is that it values votes more fairly. This is good for democracy as it encourages people to vote. It also encourages them to vote for their preferred candidate, rather than tactically.
The Weaknesses of Proportional Representation
The weaknesses of proportional representation include a lack of transparency. E.g. In an alternative voting system, it is not apparent to the electors at the time that they make their vote which of the candidates they choose will benefit from their vote. Whereas, a centralised list of candidates may weaken the links between the MPs and the constituencies.
© copyright T L Hurst 2015