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< Back to question Should the UK adopt proportional representation? Show more Show less

The UK currently uses the first-past-the-post voting method. In 2011, the UK held an 'Alternative Vote' Referendum. Although the proposal was rejected by 67.9% of voters, the referendum stoked debate about what voting method was best suited to the United Kingdom. Some people have touted proportional representation as the solution, which is different to the Alternative Vote because it directly mirrors public support for a specific party. Countries that use some form of proportional representation include Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The UK should not adopt Proportional Representation Show more Show less

The UK held a referendum on electoral reform in 2011. Although the referendum was regarding an Alternative Vote system instead of Proportional Representation, the result was clear. Just under 68% of the voting public voted decisively to keep the First Past the Post system. This shows there is little majority for electoral reform in the UK.
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PR weakens the link between an elected MP and his or her constituency

Under the current UK electoral system of first-past-the-post, there is a strong link between an MP and their constituency. Proportional Representation would threaten this with detrimental results for the local community.
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Proportional Representation is a voting system whereby the number of popular votes determines the number of seats held by a political party in parliament. Currently, the UK uses the first-past-the-post system of voting, where voters must vote for one MP in their area. This can result in people strategically voting not for their favorite candidate, but for the candidate they believe is most likely to win in their area. In 2011, the UK held a referendum on the 'Alternative Vote.' Although it was defeated by nearly 68%, it stoked a discussion about what kind of electoral system was best for the United Kingdom. One of the solutions repeatedly proposed is a form of Proportional Representation. However, Proportional Representation could drastically weaken the link between an elected MP and their constituency.

The Argument

Under the current first-past-the-post system, one MP per constituency is elected. This system fosters a strong connection between the MP and their constituency. In addition to a London home, an MP will also have a constituency home and a constituency office, which means that local issues are an important part of an MP's day to day life. Proportional Representation weakens the link between an MP and their constituency. Some have argued that under Proportional Representation, constituencies would have to be reconfigured in order to allow a fair allocation of votes, and as such, smaller, local issues may be overlooked.[1] Currently, constituencies are vital for an MP's day to day work, according to a study by the Hansard Society, nearly a year after election MP's are still spending more than half their time on constituency work. This shows that constituency work is very important to MP's not just at election time in order to garner votes. Constituency work can see MP's advocating in Parliament on behalf of issues that are important specifically to their constituency. Changing this would mean a significant shift in the UK's political landscape. For a country used to writing to their local MP about potholes in their local road, this would be an unwelcome change, and would signify a shift away from more local politics.[2] The relationship between a voter and their MP is the long-standing historical way in which the British have understood and enacted their constitution. Writers at the LSE have lauded this link, arguing that it helps the British to understand their parliament and government.[3] Doing away with this strong bond between voter, MP and constituency, the British public are left more uncertain regarding their political system.

Counter arguments


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Saturday, 22 Aug 2020 at 19:43 UTC

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