Aunty Madge UK Polls Aunty Madge Articles

UK Elections: First past the post or proportional voting?

Dated: 29th Nov 2023

The case for the removal of the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system in the United Kingdom elections is based on several arguments. Here are some key points made by proponents of alternative voting systems:

Proportional Representation:
FPTP often leads to a discrepancy between the percentage of votes a party receives and the number of seats it secures in parliament. Proponents argue for a more proportional representation system, where the distribution of seats aligns more closely with the proportion of votes each party receives.

Wasted Votes:
FPTP can result in a vast number of “wasted votes” – those cast for losing candidates or surplus votes for winning candidates beyond what is needed to secure victory. Proponents of change argue that this leads to a lack of representation for a significant portion of the electorate. Two-Party Dominance: FPTP tends to favour a two-party system, making it challenging for smaller parties to gain a foothold. Proponents of electoral reform suggest that a different system could encourage a more diverse and representative political landscape.

Regional Disparities:
FPTP may contribute to regional disparities, where parties with concentrated support in specific areas can dominate over those with more evenly distributed support. A different system might address these regional imbalances.

Voter Engagement:  Critics argue that FPTP can discourage voter engagement, especially in so-called “safe” constituencies where the outcome is largely predictable. Proponents of alternative systems propose that a more dynamic and competitive electoral environment could increase voter participation.

Majority Rule vs. Consensus: 
FPTP tends to prioritize a majority winner, even if that majority is slim. Proponents of alternative systems often emphasize the importance of consensus and argue that a system allowing for a broader spectrum of views might better represent the diverse opinions within the electorate.

The case for an alternative voting system:
Advocates for changing the electoral system typically suggest alternatives like proportional representation, ranked-choice voting, or other systems that aim to address these perceived shortcomings of the First Past the Post system. A proportional voting system in the UK could enhance representation by allocating seats proportionately to the overall vote share each party receives. This might lead to a more accurate reflection of citizens’ diverse political preferences, fostering a multi-party system and potential.