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Should the UK adopt proportional representation?

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 adopt Proportional Representation

Proportional Representation is more democratic. It gives a greater voice to candidates and parties that have long been eclipsed in first-past-the-post voting. It also ensures that fewer votes are wasted and means that everyone's votes go toward electing a government that is more representative of the national political opinion.

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.

Proportional Representation most accurately reflects national political opinion

Proportional Representation encourages a more accurate image of the political tendencies of the voters. Under this system, the number of votes cast is directly reflected in the number of seats each political party is allocated in parliament.

Proportional Representation prevents wasted votes

In the first-past-the-post system, votes can be wasted predominantly in areas known as 'safe seats'. In these instances, people supporting Labour in a traditionally Conservative stronghold may be viewed as 'wasting their vote.' Proportional Representation prevents such situations.

The UK should not adopt Proportional Representation

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.

Fringe Extremist Parties could gain a foothold

The current UK first-past-the-post system prevents radical Extremist parties from sending an MP to Parliament. Proportional Representation increases the likelihood of this happening.

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.

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.

This page was last edited on Saturday, 22 Aug 2020 at 19:26 UTC


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