Open Thinkering


Why we need Proportional Representation [infographic]

For those who’ve been under a rock it was General Election time in the UK this week. The results were pretty much a slap in the face for all of the parties involved. What was clear was that, given the current system, no party really had a clear mandate from the electorate.

I didn’t actually see the great David McCandless’ effort until after I finished mine but we’re effectively showing the same story: the electoral system in the UK needs to be reformed. We need to move from a combative first-past-the-post system to a fairer system that promotes negotiation and compromise.

Proportional representation (PR), sometimes referred to as full representation, is a type of voting system aimed at securing a close match between the percentage of votes that groups of candidates obtain in elections, and the percentage of seats they receive (e.g., in legislative assemblies).

PR is often contrasted to plurality voting systems, such as those commonly used in the United States and (much of) the United Kingdom, where disproportional seat distribution results from the division of voters into multiple electoral districts, especially “winner takes all” plurality (“first-past-the-post” or FPTP) districts.


4 thoughts on “Why we need Proportional Representation [infographic]

  1. Looked at another way, Doug, it could be argued that your graphic illustrates why we do not need PR. The Conservatives have a clear majority of the vote: more voted for them than any other party and thus they ought to be forming the Government. There’s no need for a political marriage – what this system does is offer the best chance for a majority party and an opposition: we have that: the Lib Dems and all the other minority MPs will have to vote to represent the interests of their constituents, either with or against the Government.

    It’s a good outcome: we are protected against the excesses of the Conservative manifesto and have the best chance of constitutional deadlock in the event they cannot legislate effectively, in which case they have to come back to the people.

    PR is naive and unfair: it’s the surest way to undermine representation in Britain.

    1. The few countries in Europe who still have the first-past-the-post system
      are doing well economically, aren’t they? *cough* Greece *cough* Malta
      *cough* UK. 😉

  2. Eh? Economic performance has got hee-haw to do with PR. And anyway, aren’t Greece and Malta using PR?

    I’m not keen on an arbitrary change based upon little understanding of our incredible constitution. The Liberals have for years sounded like an A-level debating society and I always thought that the established and experienced parties would never pay more than lip service to the idea of PR. I’m no lover of Cameron and the new greasy tories but I did think he had more backbone than to actually put PR on the table as a power chip. I hope he reneges on the deal: if it goes to referendum I am afraid we’ll get PR through the ignorance of the masses.

    There’s the trouble with democracy: everyone gets a vote.

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