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Should the UK adopt proportional representation? Show more Show less
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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 would result in weaker coalition governments

Proportional Representation would result in a greater number of coalition governments than with first-past-the-post. This could lead to instability and indecisiveness.

Context

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 lead to an increase in coalition government.

The Argument

Proportional Representation might lead to coalition government. A coalition government is the government formed when no one political party has achieved a clear majority. As a result, different political parties must work together to form a temporary coalition in order to rule.[1] Under first-past-the-post, there is usually a political party with a clear majority. However, due to the nature of Proportional Representation, it is more likely that coalition governments would be needed. Many have written about how the likelihood of coalition governments is raised 'significantly'[2] by Proportional Representation. Coalition governments have been very rare in the UK's political history. The Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition government of 2010-2015 was the first since the War Ministry during the Second World War. [3] In contrast, in countries with a history of deploying a form of Proportional Representation in their voting system, coalitions have been the norm rather than the exception. For example, in Germany, It is usually the CDU/CSU who rule along with another party, and indeed currently it is an alliance between the CDU/ CSU and the SPD.[4] Detractors of Proportional Representation argue that a coalition government is a less effective form of government, due to the competing interests and ideologies at play. Any given political party already contains internal squabbles and differences in opinion, and this is only magnified when there are two separate political parties with separate ruling visions. It can also take too long to form a coalition government. In 2010, it took Belgium 541 days to form a government while it took Germany, and over 160 days to form a government after its September 2017 election.[5] This uncertainty and indecisiveness can detract from the bigger issues.

Counter arguments

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Proportional Representation is more likely to result in a coalition government. [P2] There are many downsides to coalition governments, such as indecisiveness, unaccountability, divisiveness etc. [P3] Therefore, Proportional Representation should not be adopted.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/coalition-government
  2. https://www.fraserinstitute.org/article/proportional-representation-voting-systems-breed-unstable-governments
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churchill_war_ministry
  4. https://www.dw.com/en/a-history-of-germanys-coalition-governments/g-41818483
  5. https://www.fraserinstitute.org/article/proportional-representation-voting-systems-breed-unstable-governments

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This page was last edited on Saturday, 22 Aug 2020 at 19:36 UTC

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