The difference an electoral system makes

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, May 9th, 2015 - 43 comments
Categories: elections, uk politics - Tags:

fpp-vs-proportional-uk-2015

43 comments on “The difference an electoral system makes”

  1. James Thrace 1

    This really needs to be what the message should be for the next 5 years from a party that really wants change – greens / ukip or SNP. Labour won’t. – vote for a party that wants to provide everyone equal representation.

    New Zealand’s experience from 1993 might be a good starting point. Over 3.5 million voted for UKIP, and get 1 seat. Only 2 million voted for LibDems and they get far more voices.

    Incidentally, the greens political party broadcast in the UK was probably the best one out of the lot this year.

    “Number one song for 200 years”

    • Wensleydale 1.1

      That was awesome. Probably hits a little close to home for Peter Dunne and David Seymour.

  2. Aaron 2

    Under MMP the SNP would still get 56 seats but with one hell of an overhang!

    Actually If the Scots got organised under MMP they could party vote Labour and electorate vote SNP and really through a spanner in the works!

    • Colonial Rawshark 2.1

      lol yes haha

    • dukeofurl 2.2

      Your maths is faulty.

      Scotland wouldnt have 56 seats, as here roughly half are electorates and half Mps are from lists to top up.

      SNP would have all the Scottish seats( around 28) and may have a overhang of one or two.

      Check how it works out in Bavaria, where there CSU only runs in that state and does win all the seats. Germany of course is essentially the same as NZ in their brand of MMP

      Have you all forgotten ?

      UK rejected a preferential voting system in a referendum in 2011.

      67% against alternative voting system

      • Colonial Rawshark 2.2.1

        Yeah and the Labour Party killed the more proportional STV option before it even got to the ballot.

    • mikesh 2.3

      I have tended to advocate abolishing overhangs, which would force the likes of Peter Dunne out of parliament even if he won Ohariu. Imagine however if Thursday’s election had been run on an MMP system with no overhangs and the SNP lost most of their seats as a result. I may have to rethink my attitude to overhangs.

      • dukeofurl 2.3.1

        Not true, do your maths. Scotland would only have around half the current electorates it has now ( as happened in NZ,)

        You cant have very much of a overhang when the actual electorates to win would be under 30.

        • Colville. 2.3.1.1

          dukeofurl.

          If you are right and Scotland would have got circa 30 seats then Cons/Ukip would have romped home.

          If Scotland were to leave the UK Labour would never see the treasury benches again. (other than from afar)

          • Colonial Rawshark 2.3.1.1.1

            Scotland hasn’t left the UK, but it has left UK Labour. Does that count?

            • Colville. 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Maybe.

              One way to look at the result is that the centerist voters moved right out of fear of what SNP would force from Labour.

              27 of the LibDem seats went Con, 10? went Lab but about 10 Lab went Con too..

              So yeah Scotland probably cost Labour the election anyways.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                So yeah Scotland probably cost Labour the election anyways.

                Even if Labour had achieved a clean red sweep of Scotland from top to bottom, the Tories would still have won. As Sturgeon said – Labour failed the nation in England.

                • Colville.

                  Na I dont think its that simple.

                  To me it was the fear of SNP that caused the right shift in England.

                  But as I have a GSP that needs a run I am leaving ,….Outtahere….

                  • Jones

                    The English have always feared the Scots… even the Romans built a wall to protect themselves from them. 2000 years… nothing’s changed.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Rubbish.

                      The British establishment fears and loathes its self-constructed image of poverty, and cannot conceive of a situation whereby their privilege can exist otherwise.

              • DoublePlusGood

                Conservative and Labour were fairly even on total electorate votes. The main overall reason the left lost as much as they did, instead of a narrow defeat, was that in a lot of close electorates that Labour were hoping to pick up off the Conservatives, there was a substantial vote for UKIP, which would have taken votes of both Labour and Conservative. Labour needed to win those votes over to them to grab tight electorates off the conservatives.
                In Scotland the SNP got a few seats off the Lib Dems as well as Labour, so they were about +5 for the left overall.

      • Colville. 2.3.2

        Mikesh.

        Can you explain how Dunne could be out if he won his seat?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.3.2.1

          The number of people who voted for him is less than the required percentage of the electorate. In Mikesh’s system, a seat in Parliament is contingent on the party vote.

          I’m not in favour, although I’d like to see constituency’s voting for extremist candidates rewarded by having their policies inflicted upon their constituency, ie: Charter schools, no minimum wage, no human rights and no RMA, but only in Epsom.

          • Colville. 2.3.2.1.1

            OAB, thanks for that.

            Yeah would never happen.

            Dunne is a very good electorate MP I understand. If it were not possible to split vote then he would carry that popularity thru to holding his seat. Plus a few from the hunting fishing mob too. Of which I is one,

          • Colville. 2.3.2.1.2

            OAB.

            “although I’d like to see constituency’s voting for extremist candidates rewarded by having their policies inflicted upon their constituency”

            Interesting thought that, where in UK UKIP voters would get exactly what they want where they live.

            They would LOVE that.

          • Melanie Scott 2.3.2.1.3

            But only in Epsom. Brilliant idea. Ooooh those leafy suburban streets – bye bye.

  3. katipo 3

    This link is worth a visit on the subject…

    http://theconversation.com/the-case-for-proportional-representation-in-the-uk-just-became-clearer-41544

    …”The problem is that first past the post functioned in a two-party system where party support was spread relatively evenly across the nation. With a multi-party system and considerable regional variation, the electoral system is no longer fit for purpose. Very few voters can make a significant outcome to the electorate, undermining the democratic legitimacy of British government.”….

  4. Colonial Rawshark 4

    So in a proportional system, UK Labour would have lost a further 19 seats, but could then govern by working with the SNP and Greens.

    My guessing of UK Labour logic is that they’d prefer to stay out of government with more MPs than support proportional representation and be in government having to share power.

    • dukeofurl 4.1

      Really

      As in NZ , MMP does force you to ‘share power’ The tories do it here , so did labour.

      You are a smart guy , why are you making all these clangers. Trying to talk on behalf of others , which you know little about is a recipe for trouble.

      Its all irrelevant as UK would never go for a MMP system. The closest was an Australian style preferential voting , but that was rejected at a referendum.

      AS you know, that doesnt deliver ‘power’ to the greens in an electorate based system.

      • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1

        My comment related directly to the content of the post. What the UK Parliament would look like this afternoon, given a proportional electoral system.

        If you believe that talk of a proportional electoral system in the UK is irrelevant as they would never go for it, feel free to criticise the post itself and not my comment.

        I did make an error however – in the proportional scenario above, Labour would have to get the Lib Dems on side as well before they could form a government.

        • dukeofurl 4.1.1.1

          Well you were wrong about a SNP overhang, no way could they have 56 seats as the definition of MMP , is mixed member.
          Actual numbers could vary but as a rule of thumb only 50-60% would be from seats, and the rest go on the list.

          The UK has all ready rejected the preferential voting system, the so called Alternative vote.

          As for STV being ‘better’ than AV, that too is nonsense. When you have one person to be elected, they are effectively the same system.

          STV only becomes different when you say elect 12 councillors from one list for say a council.

          Sorry to be difficult on this, but perhaps you have been on the whiskey all night and its muddled your thinking and you have got it all wrong.

          • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1.1.1

            Well you were wrong about a SNP overhang, no way could they have 56 seats as the definition of MMP , is mixed member.

            I haven’t made any comment regarding a “SNP overhang.” Really, maybe you’re the one who has been “on the whiskey.”

            • dukeofurl 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Your comment to the so called huge overhang
              “Under MMP the SNP would still get 56 seats but with one hell of an overhang”

              And you said –

              lol yes haha.

              You should have said , doesnt add up, but have another tipple anyway

              • Aaron

                Actually that was me that said that.

                You’re right of course – about the overhang, not the whiskey.

                • Colonial Viper

                  dukeofurl is just reaching now. A play on words on “hangover” and whiskey, but Labour establishmentarians are short of humour currently.

    • katipo 4.2

      It would be naive to assume that under a proportional voting system people would cast their votes for exactly the same parties as they would under FPP. ie under FPP votes usally coalesce around 2 candidates and too bad if you happen to live in an electorate where your preferred party is not one of the front runners as you can only waste your vote or back the lesser of 2 evils.
      Under a Propotional system people can simply choose the party they prefer (cup-of-tea coat-tail deals not withstanding).

  5. ianmac 5

    The graph is so graphic! Remember FPP when living in a National electorate made my vote totally worthless.

  6. Rolfcopter 6

    Of course the other issue to consider is that unlike NZ, constituency sizes in the UK (population-wise) are quite disparate, with some constituencies having 2 or 3 times the number of people in them.

    It was addressed in parliament in 2014 (i think), and the boundaries are due to be redrawn in 2018, which also reduces the number of seats from 650 to 600.

    So on top of lack of proportionality, you also have constituencies where a single vote can be worth a lot more than others.

  7. felix 7

    And that’s what National want to return us to.

    (Yeah I know they call it something else. I mean they want to return us to the lack of proportionality)

  8. Bill 8

    Question. The working out of those proportional numbers…it took into account that Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are distinct political entities in a union…ie, done for each polity and then added together to give a UK total? Or were the numbers calculated on a blunt UK basis? I suspect the latter. That being the case, the numbers are bullshit and based on a system of voting that would never be accepted given the nature of the UK.

    • dukeofurl 8.1

      The numbers for a nationwide votes are easily available. What the proportions of electorates and list seats would not be known.

      What they had for 2015 was the same as 2010

      ” 2010 general election there were 533 constituencies in England, 40 constituencies in Wales, 59 constituencies in Scotland and 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland giving a total of 650″

      On the basis of SNP having 51% of the vote in Scotland would give them 30 seats, so yes your bullshit claim is correct.

      The other numbers are a bit out but fairly close to the figures , give or take.
      But SNP number is totally wrong it wouldnt get 37 seats or 63%

  9. Chooky 9

    ‘The Fuller Picture – 2015 UK Elections: Voters abandoning parties or parties abandoning voters?’ ( a pre-Election view)

    (Currently a Research Associate at the INSYTE Group, Dr. Roslyn Fuller has previously lectured at Trinity College and the National University of Ireland. )

    “Comedian Russell Brand caused a storm in a teacup over the last few months by claiming that voting is an essentially useless activity.

    And he’s basically right. Especially so in the UK, which uses the first-past-the-post system. British people, for reasons best known to themselves, voted to retain first-past-the-post in a 2011 referendum on the matter…So, the figures seem to back up Mr. Brand, and if you voted for the Lib Dems, Greens or UKIP, you’re probably feeling that rather painfully right now….”

    http://rt.com/op-edge/256481-uk-elections-voters-parties/

  10. Sanctuary 10

    The thing is that all the UK – and, really, New Zealand – political parties in parliament are simply administrators of a certain type of capitalist hegemony.

    The exercise of power in capitalism is just not by the iron fist of coercion and fear. In order to survive it needs a diffuse legitimacy that, through innumerable collective cultural institutions, continually captures the consent of the majority. This ensemble of manufacturers of consent include all those “outer ramparts” of the defensive system of capitalism – that is, the civil service, institutional political parties, and traditional trade unions. Arguing about how you elect which particular defender of the hegemony and its panopticon of domination and collaboration is a bit pointless, unless you plan to use it as a tool to subvert that capitalist order.

    One of the most effective weapons of capitalism has been to separate groups of people who seek to create new forms of representation from the intellectuals who might provide that leadership. “Latte” or “Chardonnay” socialists are sneered at by the capitalist media and wedged against a bourgeois concept of “the people” as an undifferentiated, crude and anti-intellectual mass. it is the intellectual equivalent of enuring the brightest in the herd and separated, then culled or domesticated by the masters.

    To my mind, the only way to get genuine change in capitalism is by leftist intellectuals accepting their role as leaders and shapers of the opinions of mass of the “the people” (as I said, in my view, to imagine “the people” as a monolithic and unchanging given is hopelessly bourgeois), turning away from traditional political structures as the primary tools of change, and building new structures to challenge and defeat neo-liberalism. My view is these new structures need not be permanent – mission orientated organisations (“save our hospital!”) that win the war against capitalism and neo-liberalism on a 100 simultaneous fronts might work just as well as mass movements created parallel to existing unions and social-democratic parties.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      +1

      although if you mean privileged university academics when you refer to “leftist intellectuals ” as leaders, its simply not going to happen. Our universities are also defenders of status quo capitalism, and churn more out as their annual output.

      • Sanctuary 10.1.1

        No, I mean by a program of selecting workplace leaders and educating them to be grassroots educators, leaders and ideologues.

  11. Philip Ferguson 11

    Left economics blogger Michael Roberts on the British elections: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/on-the-british-election-results/

    • swordfish 11.1

      Interesting post by Michael Roberts, but I don’t entirely agree with his Opinion Poll-Election Result comparisons.

      He argues:

      (1) “So the Conservative share is a little higher than the polls reckoned but Labour did much worse than forecast.”
      Well, no. The Tories were averaging 34.3% (over final 10 polls), Labour averaged 33.0%. On Election day, the Tories took 36.9% (+ 2.6 relative to polls ) and Labour 30.4% (- 2.6 relative to polls ).
      If he’s gonna call Labour’s 2.6 point disparity “much worse” then he’ll have to label the Tory result “much better”. Or, of course, “a little higher” and “a little lower”.

      (2) “It appears that the UKIP share was lower than forecast…and those votes went to the Conservatives”
      UKIP averaged 12.1% in the final 10 Polls and ended up receiving 12.6% on Election day (+ 0.5).
      There was no last minute collapse (despite many pundits suggesting otherwise).

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