Proportional Representation is an electoral system that is utilised in the European Parliament to determine the number of seats acquired through voting. The main aspect about this voting system is that percentage of votes received is approximately proportionate to the number of seats given to the party. Currently, the system that is being used in the UK is First-Past-The-Post. This essay will attempt to argue that Proportional Representation should be introduced for British general elections. It will also try to present sufficient evidence including examples of different types of Proportional Representation to support its stance.
First-Past-The-Post is a straightforward method of electing a candidate. The elected candidate will just have to gain most of the votes in its constituency to get the seat in Parliament. For Proportional Representation, however, the Electoral Reform Society states about Single Transferable Vote which is where “Candidates don't need a majority of votes to be elected, just a known 'quota', or share of the votes, determined by the size of the electorate and the number of positions to be filled.” (Electoral Reform Society, 2013)1
This clearly indicates the simplicity of First-Past-The-Post system, especially towards its citizens who are probably not as informed. Then again, in almost every area of Britain, access to the internet and resources are efficient to a positive extent. Nearly everyone will have the chance to educate themselves about electoral systems easily. And thus it will not pose as a problem to exercise Proportional Representation, would it?
Diagram A1, European Parliament Election 1994 news.bbc.co.uk
Diagram A1 above depicts the results of the 1994 European Parliament elections using Single Transferable Vote. Three seats are to be filled in this election. The highlighted candidates that have met the quota were elected immediately. The final candidate elected obtained the surplus votes of the two winners that were redistributed and transpired mostly towards him. Because of its sophisticated yet precise method, Single Transferable Vote gives the voters a variety of options and they are the major influence in deciding the winners.
Another problem that is resulted from using the current system will be the wasted votes and turnout rate. Darren Hughes, Director of Campaigns and Research predicted the local election in Wiltshire using First-Past-The-Post that will be held on 10 May 2013 to have 32,000 denied votes. At present, 54.7% of the votes apparently belong to the total of other parties, but the dominant party (the Conservatives) won the election as a whole, which is not realistically fair to more than half of the voters. (ERS, 2013)2 Even though this example is not a General Election, the issue should probably be resolved as practicing First-Past-The-Post in the Britain General Elections might lead to complex situations and at worst scenarios, demonstrations by the public. Thus, Single Transferable Vote allows lesser wasted votes ‘as voters can identify a representative that they personally helped to elect’ (ERS, 2013)2. Evidence is shown in Scotland with the recent modifications of their voting system. Darren Hughes commented “Using the Single Transferable Vote has abolished the phenomenon of Uncontested Seats…Voters get more candidates to choose from and they have significantly increased the chances of someone they vote for getting elected.” (ERS, 2013)2 Therefore, it will be advantageous for Britain to benefit from the Proportional Representation system in general as it promotes fairness and higher turnout rate.
Personalized voting will also be an aspect to determine whether that particular electoral system is favorable to the citizens. In some constituencies, single-member candidates that belong to different parties will only be voted basically if…