Should the UK reform its main electoral system?

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Michelle Feeney

Should the UK reform its main electoral system?

Over the years Britain’s pluralist electoral system has been scrutinised by many political and pressure groups, such as the Liberal Democrats and the Electoral Reform Society.  In their 1997 Manifesto, the Labour Party did state that they would look into the matter, by holding a referendum on the issue, however there was no change as Labour had a large majority in 1997 and Labour has preformed disappointingly in elections where Proportional Representation had been used. The main electoral system in the UK should be reformed because the ‘first past the post’ system does not represent the electorate in a democratic manner. It also under represents smaller parties, as the system creates a two party system in which either Labour or the Conservatives have been in Government. This has been the occurrence since 1945, and to amend this and be represented wholly, we should reform our electorate system using a method of Proportional Representation in which the electorate would be represented.

        The current system does have some advantages, such as it is a simple system and the concept can be grasped by anyone, and it produces clear results. Therefore, there would be a strong majority government and no weak coalitions. The author of ‘Electoral Reform,’ David Agnew agrees with this statement, and also states that with Proportional Representation, we would need coalitions and lead to a weak government. It also creates a strong bond between and MP between his or her constituency, which Agnew also agrees with.

The case can be argued in many ways and that is that there are too many disadvantages in our system in that, firstly, it penalises the ‘third’ or smaller parties. For example, in the 1992 General Elections, the Scottish Nationalist Party received 21.5% of the total votes in the UK but only got six seats in parliament. The system is also disproportionate, an example of this is can be shown in a study of the 2001 General Election.

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From the 2001 General Election results, we can deliberately see that through our pluralist electoral system, the system is disproportionate. We can see many examples of this]. The percentage of votes to the percentage of seats is unequal, showing how its ‘seats not votes that count,’ and judging by labour’s “landslide” victory. In fact, we can see that Labour did not even gain a majority from voters but only from seats. Another example is the Liberal Democrats; they received 18.3% of the electorate’s votes, but only received less than half the percentage of seats at 7.9%. Labour also received a ...

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