Advanced search

To ask about proportional representation?

(44 Posts)
malificent7 Thu 08-Jun-17 05:14:20

I resent having to vote tactically.. id like to vote with my heart.
Ive heard that proportional representation is a good way foward.
Cananyone explain it and is it a good idea?

Trifleorbust Thu 08-Jun-17 06:08:47

In a proportional representation system, MPs are elected in numbers based on how many people voted for different parties. So if a third voted Labour, a third Conservative, a sixth Green and a sixth UKIP, Parliament would look like that: a third Labour MPs etc.

In our 'first past the post' system, only the MP who gets more votes than anyone else in their constituency election is elected to Parliament, so you can have an MP who got 51% of the vote in Parliament, whilst the 49% who voted 'other' are effectively unrepresented.

This leads some people to feel they are 'wasting' a vote for a party where the standing MP has little chance of winning.

LedaP Thu 08-Jun-17 06:12:40

Did we vote quite recently (a few years ago) and reject PR?

I have a feeling we did. But cant remember any details.

Dandandandandandandan Thu 08-Jun-17 06:14:22

Yes. We had a referendum on it in 2011. Only 41% of people bothered to vote. If you were eligible to vote and you didn't, it's no good complaining now!

Snap8TheCat Thu 08-Jun-17 06:17:29

It wasn't a referendum for PR but AV which isnt the same.

SerfTerf Thu 08-Jun-17 06:31:21

I was disappointed that Nick Clegg's referendum motion was defeated but I feel more mixed about it now.

If you have PR or AV or another variant, you end up with multi party politics, because nobody has overall control of Parliament and regularly shifting coalition governments become the norm.

Germany and the Scandinavian countries manage it well enough (amongst other places). But is that partly cultural? Maybe we wouldn't be very good at cooperative politics. Forming a coalition didn't go so well seven years ago. Maybe we'd get used to it. Maybe it's just not very naturally British.

By extension, it would also mean all successful legislation became more centrist. The radical edges would be knocked if EVERYTHING, so truly innovative law-making becomes difficult. Good for stability, though.

Then there's the business of seeing more representatives from extreme parties in the HoC. How many UKIP MPs would it have been last time? That's the kind of thing FPTP prevents very effectively . And really, what is the POINT in having extreme-wing politicians elected if only very legislation has any hope of making it through?

So based on that understanding, my feelings are a bit mixed. I'm sure you can tell.

SerfTerf Thu 08-Jun-17 06:32:47

...if only very "middle way" legislation has a hope of making it through?

redexpat Thu 08-Jun-17 06:43:53

Proportional representation means no party ever gets an all out majority so there are nearly always coalitions. Anothet disadvantage of PR is that it allows minority extremist parties to exist. Hitler got in because of PR. The advantages are that it is good for womens and other minority representation, and that all votes count, so you dont get the same apathy that you do in the uk. Turnout in Denmark is usually 85-90%.

When you vote for the EU thats done by PR.

Italy voted not so long ago to change from pr to fptp because they were sick of weak coalitions.

harderandharder2breathe Thu 08-Jun-17 07:12:34

I was all for PR until the last election when something like 20% went to UKIP.

Moussemoose Thu 08-Jun-17 07:19:05


Proportional representation means no party ever gets an all out majority so there are nearly always coalitions. Anothet disadvantage....

Why is a coalition a disadvantage? Working with other people to help the many not the few is usually regarded as a good thing. In life compromise and discussion is valued. Working together is prized in industry.

Almost every other democratic country (USA a notable exception) has some form of coalition. Please no one mention Hitler got in through PR, it was one very small element in a complex situation.

Mulledwine1 Thu 08-Jun-17 08:53:05

I was all for PR until the last election when something like 20% went to UKIP

Yes the make-up of the parliament would have been very different. But we'd have had more Greens and Libdems and far fewer SNP, so it's swings and roundabouts.

The Germans have a 5% clause so the real fringe parties don't get into parliament. You could even have a 10% clause.

I'm strongly in favour of PR - those of us living in safe seats would not waste our votes if we don't want the incumbent.

That's the one good thing you can say about the EU referendum, at least every vote counted.

redexpat Thu 08-Jun-17 09:11:53

Yes coalitions work in countries where there is a strong tradition of cooperation and collaboration. I dont count the UK as one of those. Look at how the house is set up. It isnt in a round where all ideas can be shared and discussed. It's 2 sides that oppose each other.

Did you see the bit of my post that mentioned Italy? Coalitions didnt work there either.

Moussemoose Thu 08-Jun-17 17:06:41

redexpat British political culture is very, very different to Italy so it is not a particularly good comparison.

The hope would be that when forced to compromise to gain power the political parties would learn to work together. I think the politicians could cooperate - they did during the last government. The general public lacks the sophistication to realise compromise is not only notva bad thing it is in fact a very good thing.

IfYouGoDownToTheWoodsToday Thu 08-Jun-17 17:12:32

I expect if the PR vote was done today, we would have had a very different result.

I live in a very safe Tory seat and I do feel my vote is wasted, every single time!

tabbymog Thu 08-Jun-17 17:19:23

The Italian half of my family (numerically much more than half) think PR is the best system. They say their problems are with the poor character of the politicians (sly, dishonest, lacking integrity), not the design of the voting system.

IchBinEinBerliner1963 Thu 08-Jun-17 17:25:00

We had a referendum on it in 2011

No we didn't. We had a referendum on the alternative vote.

Firesuit Thu 08-Jun-17 17:35:50

Better voting systems were an interesting idea, 30 years ago, but now that the internet has been invented, if were designing a political system from scratch, some of it's features might be:-

1. No physical parliament, instead on-line forums for politicians. Written instead of verbal debates. On-line voting for legislation.
2. No general elections, instead of voting once every few years you can change your vote at any time of day or night.
3. Every constituency could have several elected politicians, maybe one per party, but...
4. Each politicians vote (when it comes to passing legislation) carries the weight of the number of people who voted for them.

Firesuit Thu 08-Jun-17 17:38:09

Point 4 would be the best way to implement PR even if we kept everything else about our current political system the same.

samG76 Thu 08-Jun-17 17:38:27

FWIW, I think part of the reason for the success of extremist parties in Austria and Germany was that because of PR irrespective of who won the election it was pretty much the same people in charge. A bit like the European Commission - when people feel that nothing they do makes any difference, they look for radical alternatives.

In many countries with constituencies and lists, parties put their least acceptable candidates on the list and hope they'll get in by the back door. I'll stick with FPtP.

Firesuit Thu 08-Jun-17 17:43:24

OK, that doesn't quite makes sense: an approximation of point 4 within the current system would be to give each MP the voting power of [total votes for the party]/[number of MPs representing that party]

ExplodedCloud Thu 08-Jun-17 17:43:33

A/V was sold pretty badly during the vote on it iirc. The leaflets made it sound confusingly complicated and I think a lot of people couldn't get their heads around it. I remember talking to a few people at the time and they were struggling to understand It, let alone vote on it. I suspect they didn't bother voting though.

caroldecker Thu 08-Jun-17 17:43:54

The trouble with PR is the party list system. Under PR the party leader would choose which people would become MP's, with no way of stopping them, so Neli Hamilton, Micheal Portillo and Ed Balls would still be MP's.
It encourages loyalty to the leader, not the constituent, rather than the more balanced position today.

Seeline Thu 08-Jun-17 17:43:55

How does PR work in terms of local representation?
I know that if I have a major problem I can go to my MP and they should try to do something to help (OK - I know that works better for some than for others....) But with PR who would I go to? If there was only 1 MP representing a party, they would be awfully overstretched?

Firesuit Thu 08-Jun-17 17:46:31

So if a fringe party got no seats, they and there voters would have no representation, but if they won just one seat, all voters through-out the country would be represented via that one seat.

Every vote for a party that can win at least one seat would carry equal weight.

ExplodedCloud Thu 08-Jun-17 17:52:15

Neil Hamilton is astoundingly a UKIP Welsh AM. This never fails to astound me.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: