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Should the UK adopt proportional representation?
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Proportional Representation gives a voice to minority candidates and parties

Currently, the political elections in the UK are often seen as a contest between the two main parties, the Conservatives and Labour. Proportional representation would mean that smaller parties would also have a chance to be represented and gain a greater voice in parliament.

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 favourite 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.

The Argument

Adopting Proportional Representation would give smaller parties in the UK, such as the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and UKIP, the chance to gain more seats in Parliament. Currently, although many small parties collectively gain a significant share of the vote, they receive far fewer seats than the two larger parties, due to the electoral design. For example, one study has shown that in the 2019 UK election, 16% of the vote share (5.2 million votes) was won by the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party, however they received just 2% of parliamentary seats.[1] This was even more marked in the 2015 election, where the Greens won 1.1.m votes and UKIP 3.8m, yet both parties only sent one MP to parliament.[2] The current first-past-the-post system also means that the amount of votes needed to elect an MP from each party is wildly variable depending on the size of the party. For larger parties such as the Conservatives and Labour, in the 2019 election, they required 38,000 and 50,000 votes to elect an MP respectively. In stark contrast, it took 800,000 votes to elect one Green MP, and although the Brexit party received 600,000 votes they received no MP. [3] Smaller parties in Parliament mean a greater diversity of political opinion. With Proportional Representation, the smaller parties stand a chance of having a greater number of representatives elected to parliament, and therefore they stand to influence policy making and debate in a way currently out of reach.

Counter arguments

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Currently, the amount of votes needed to elect an MP from each party is wildly different ranging from 32,000 to 800,000 votes. [P2] With Proportional Representation the number of votes cast will reflect the number of Representatives elected from each party. [P3] Therefore, smaller parties will send a greater number of representatives to parliament and have a greater voice in legislative decision making. [P4] Therefore, the UK should adopt Proportional Representation to give minority parties a greater chance and increase political diversity in parliament.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/first-past-the-post
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/09/margate-ukip-greens-electoral-reform-farage
  3. https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/first-past-the-post
This page was last edited on Saturday, 22 Aug 2020 at 20:32 UTC

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