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Priti Patel wants more first-past-the-post elections

What is the best voting system for the UK?

  • First past the post (used in general elections)

    Votes: 26 20.2%
  • Single transferable vote

    Votes: 40 31.0%
  • Supplementary vote (used for London Mayor and PCC Commissioner elections)

    Votes: 7 5.4%
  • Additional member system (used for London Assembly, Scottish and Welsh Parliament elections)

    Votes: 44 34.1%
  • Other

    Votes: 12 9.3%

  • Total voters
    129
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Class465pacer

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This was in the news a few days ago but I thought it would be interesting to see people’s views on the matter:
Priti Patel under fire over plan to change voting system for London mayor - The Independent
Priti Patel has been accused of “utter disdain for devolution” after she announced plans to switch elections for the Mayor of London to the first-past-the-post system.
The change would apply not only to the election of the capital’s mayor, but to votes for Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales and elected mayors in nine combined authorities in England.
Electoral reform campaigners said the move away from the supplementary vote system would allow unpopular mayors “sneak into city and town halls” to the opposition of a majority of voters.
Under the existing system of election, voters number candidates in order of preference. After a first round of counting, the ballots of less successful contenders are redistributed between the two most popular candidates in a run-off to find a winner. The system is designed to ensure that the mayor or PCC has a broad base of support in the area and to prevent relatively unpopular parties installing their candidate thanks to a split in the opposition vote. But Ms Patel said that first-past-the-post “provides for strong and clear local accountability” and legislation would be brought forward to switch the elections to FPTP.
 
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higthomas

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Anything but FPTP TBH.
I think it was the 2015 election where UKIP got about 17% of the vote and 1 MP. Madness.
(It would also change the currwnt situation where 3rd parties simply harm the chances of the major party they are most closely alligned to.)
 

scotrail158713

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The only thing FPTP has going for it is that majority governments are usually returned, meaning that the governing party can theoretically follow through on manifesto promises. For example, in the 2019 election the Conservatives could get Brexit through parliament as they had 56(?)% of all MPs. However, they only received 45% of all votes, so is that really an advantage of FPTP? (Ipsos MORI stats)

I personally don't think so, and to be honest I would happily use any other system over FPTP. To use the Conservatives again, at the 2016 Scottish election, using AMS, they had 22% of votes and 24% of seats. That kind of system seems fundamentally fairer to me. (Wikipedia stats)
 

DB

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The only thing FPTP has going for it is that majority governments are usually returned, meaning that the governing party can theoretically follow through on manifesto promises. For example, in the 2019 election the Conservatives could get Brexit through parliament as they had 56(?)% of all MPs. However, they only received 45% of all votes, so is that really an advantage of FPTP? (Ipsos MORI stats)

But in practice both main parties discard manifesto promises anyway if it suits them!

Countries with better voting systems, and which often end up with coalitions as a result, don't seem to fare any worse so not sure that this - which is the sole supposed advantage of FPTP - really stands up to scrutiny.
 

Journeyman

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I don't see the problem in using FPTP to elect single candidates such as mayors, although admittedly it gets less optimal the more candidates you have.
 

southern442

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I don't see the problem in using FPTP to elect single candidates such as mayors, although admittedly it gets less optimal the more candidates you have.
Surely it is even worse for single candidates? The current London mayoral system ensures that whoever becomes mayor has had at least half of all voters vote for them at some stage in the process. If it was FPTP, you'd end up with a mayor that a decent majority of voters didn't want. Plus you'd end up with it always being a two-party race, and in London mayoral elections at least, third party candidates do sometimes get quite close to winning.
 

DanNCL

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Not surprising that the Tories want to expand the use of FPTP, as without it they'd not win in anywhere near as many ballots as they do with FPTP.
 

adrock1976

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What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
Although I have not voted in the poll (even though I like all the options except FPTP), for proportional representation to work, Great Britain/the UK needs to have progressive federalism.

Depending upon what the election is, I would have the following:

Supplementary vote as used in London and for all Mayoral elections (all Mayors to resign party affiliation upon being elected, a la Speaker of the Commons post)

Additional Member System as used in Wales and Scotland for electing MPs. For this to work in England, perhaps the former European Parliament Regions could be used (also Gibraltar could join in if they wish, as they are (or were) part of England's South West Region for European Parliament elections)?

Single Transferrable Vote as used in the Scottish Council elections for local council elections. For this to work, each ward would be multi member as in Scotland.

All candidates must have resided in the constituency/ward/region for a minimum of five years before standing for election. Also, anyone serving office who is breached code of conduct would trigger an automatic by-election (e.g Basingstoke MP Maria Miller being caught with fingers in the till, embezzlement such as former Glasgow Central MP Natalie McGarry, etc).
 

scotrail158713

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But in practice both main parties discard manifesto promises anyway if it suits them!

Countries with better voting systems, and which often end up with coalitions as a result, don't seem to fare any worse so not sure that this - which is the sole supposed advantage of FPTP - really stands up to scrutiny.
Yeah I completely agree. FPTP is a very poor system IMO. I was just adding that point as some balance, but as you say it’s not even a strong argument.

In all honesty AMS that’s used for Holyrood up here isn’t too bad for me. I’d be happy to see other elections use it as well.
 

Gloster

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There is a problem. How do you get people elected to parliament by FPTP to vote for a different system.

There is a sort of political syllogism here: “I am the best person to be an MP. This system elected me. Therefore, this is the best system to elect the best people to be MPs.”
 

hexagon789

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Not surprising that the Tories want to expand the use of FPTP, as without it they'd not win in anywhere near as many ballots as they do with FPTP.
To be fair I'm sure Labour are quite happy retaining it in many areas as well.

Such is the inherent nature of FPTP - you end up with two dominant parties which generally seek to retain said electoral system because it benefits them both.

Same applies in the US, Canada (though the Liberals continue to talk about abolishing FPTP at the Federal level), to an extent India and so on
 

43096

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I don't see the problem in using FPTP to elect single candidates such as mayors, although admittedly it gets less optimal the more candidates you have.
Agreed. It would have made things a whole lot easier state-side last year had they used FPTP rather than the electoral college system.
 

Journeyman

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Agreed. It would have made things a whole lot easier state-side last year had they used FPTP rather than the electoral college system.
Well, the electoral college is just stupid and not fit for purpose in any size, shape or form. It's only kept because so many Americans treat the Constitution like a sacred religious text.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Such is the inherent nature of FPTP - you end up with two dominant parties which generally seek to retain said electoral system because it benefits them both.
Ain't that the truth. :rolleyes:

A major problem with "First Past the Post" is that not many constituencies are marginal (these being the ones that most of the media tend to focus on).

This means that in constituencies with a big majority, it can take an absolutely massive swing from one party to another in order to oust the incumbent party, and so your vote there is possibly "worth" less than it might in a more marginal constituency.
 

43096

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It's only kept because so many Americans treat the Constitution like a sacred religious text.
Well, quite. They conveniently ignore that the constitution has amendments, so it can be changed. All the "right to bear arms" bolleaux has the same problem.
 

hexagon789

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Well, the electoral college is just stupid and not fit for purpose in any size, shape or form. It's only kept because so many Americans treat the Constitution like a sacred religious text.
Arguably it's more because it benefits rural states which tend to lean more towards a certain party. After all the Democrats have won the popular vote in every presidential election since 1992 bar one, if it wasn't for the electoral college the Republicans would only have won in 2004 and that probably wouldn't have happened if GWB hadn't become President in 2000 to begin with.

All the "right to bear arms" bolleaux has the same problem.
And which doesn't appear in the original constitution it is itself an amendment ;)

And given it is generally the textualists and originalists that support it it is somewhat ironic that they who go on about sticking to the original intentions of the constitution and ammendments to same that they have in effect altered the original intentions of the Second Ammendment to suit themselves.
 

brad465

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Aside from all the legitimate issues with FPTP in terms of poor representation and unfairness on small issues, the system also fuels divide and rule: politicians from the major parties need to keep their base on side, so resort to divisive language to do so, knowing they don't need 50%+ of the popular vote to win, whereas under a PR style system they'd need to talk more broadly to garner as much support as possible.

Incidentally the BBC has this recent article and documentary advert on "the forgotten referendum", the AV one in 2011 and its resultant consequences:


The prime minister is Jeremy Corbyn. The UK is a member of the European Union. Two fanciful propositions, you might think.

And yet there was a moment, a decade ago, where that course could have been set, even if every vote since then had been cast exactly the same way.

It was a moment, therefore, that moulded the politics of the 10 years that followed.

A decade like no other in British politics.

A decade defined by referendums.

We are going to tell you the story of The Forgotten Referendum of 2011: why it mattered in its own right, and, crucially, how it shaped what came next.

What did happen, and what could have happened.

For the record as AV is not a PR style system, we have never had any referendum on the issue such a system, although it was a discarded feature of the 1997 Labour manifesto.
 

Morgsie

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Electoral Reform is an interest of mine and I know a thing or two about electoral systems. One of the Blair Government's was elected on 36% of the National Vote, I think it was the 2005 General Election. Another issue with FPTP is that in a Constituency, if you look at the at the statistics voters voted against the Elected MP yet those votes are fragmented. The Blair Governnet set up the Jenkins Commissions chaired by the late Roy Jenkins to look into electoral reform, that Commission proposed AV+, a system like MMP (Mixed-Member Proportional, used in Germany for Bundestag Elections)/AMS (Additional Member System used in Socttish Parliamentary and Welsh Senedd Elections) AV would be used for Constituency Votes and Party List. Germany it is 50% Constituencies and 50% Party List using the Sainte-Lague and there is an issue of overhang seats. In Wales it is 40 Constituencies and 20 Party List and in Scotland it is 73 Constituencies and 56 Party Lists using the D'Hondt formula. I have mentioned Sainte-Lague that is used in Germany and New Zealand uses that fromula too and moved from FPTP to MMP within the last 30 years. Germany prior to using Sainte Lague used the Hare-Neimeyer fromula.

That being said I voted for AV back in 2011 as a move towards a proportional system. I am a Lib Dem that differs to party policy on STV (Single-Transferable Vote) being used to elect MP's, I favour MMP/AMS/AV+ being used to elect MP's as it is retains the Constiuency Link and best of both. I have also noted a broader Constitutional Reform thread on these Forums and House of Lords reform where I think STV should be used for their elections but the Upper Chamber is linked with the notion of Federalism where the Lords be the American Senate or the German Bundesrat?
 

daodao

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FPTP usually produces stable administrations. Other more proportional systems do not.

For example, I was reading yesterday about the forthcoming election in Israel (on 23/3/21), the fourth within 2 years. The system there is one of nationwide proportional representation, with the electoral threshold currently set at 3.25%; this leads to a plethora of small fluctuating parties. Italy has a mixture of FPTP and proportional representation, and the administration of that country has been chaotic for many years.

AV may be tolerable, although FPTP is simpler, but any form of PR produces a mess. PP is on the right lines in her desire to get rid of non-FPTP electoral systems in GB.
 
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Morgsie

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Stable governments also happen in Proportional systems IE Germany since 1949, The German System is 299 Constituencies and 299 List Seats yet one needs 5% of the List vote and if a Party has 3 or more Constituncies still gets setas on the List vote. German Elections to the Bundestag are scheduled fo September 2021. It was back in 2009 they moved to Sainte-Lague. 4 years ago the AfD gained Seats in the Bundestag and the existsing Parliamentary Groups have to react, in the UK context UKIP and the Greens would have more representation yet how do the Tories, Labour, SNP Lib Dems etc react? If one thinks that an oppostion party forming a government is democracy then a Re-Unified Germany elected a SPD and Green Government back in 1998. A feature of the German system is the Constructive Vote of No-Confidence where the Bundestag can only remove a Chancellor with a replacment of another Challencor. This is enshrined in the German Basic Law

The Republic of Ireland uses STV and the last Dail Electons, February 2020 are interesting in that Sinn Fein got 37 Seats, Fianna Fail got 37 Seats and Fine Gael got 35 Seats. a Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Green Coalition Government was formed with Michael Martin being prime Minister for half of the term and Leo Varadkar for the second half.

The Netherlands uses a proportional system and there was an election this month 15-17 March, looks like a multi-party Coalition Government will be formed.

I mentioned the New Zealand case as they had a refrendum on electoral reform back in 1993

There is a perception that PR producses unstable Governments, in the cases of Italy and Greece one needs to look at them in more detail as to why there have been numerous Governments in recent years.
 

daodao

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Stable governments also happen in Proportional systems IE Germany since 1949, The German System is 299 Constituencies and 299 List Seats yet one needs 5% of the List vote and if a Party has 3 or more Constituncies still gets setas on the List vote. German Elections to the Bundestag are scheduled fo September 2021. It was back in 2009 they moved to Sainte-Lague. 4 years ago the AfD gained Seats in the Bundestag and the existsing Parliamentary Groups have to react, in the UK context UKIP and the Greens would have more representation yet how do the Tories, Labour, SNP Lib Dems etc react? If one thinks that an oppostion party forming a government is democracy then a Re-Unified Germany elected a SPD and Green Government back in 1998. A feature of the German system is the Constructive Vote of No-Confidence where the Bundestag can only remove a Chancellor with a replacment of another Challencor. This is enshrined in the German Basic Law

The Republic of Ireland uses STV and the last Dail Electons, February 2020 are interesting in that Sinn Fein got 37 Seats, Fianna Fail got 37 Seats and Fine Gael got 35 Seats. a Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Green Coalition Government was formed with Michael Martin being prime Minister for half of the term and Leo Varadkar for the second half.

The Netherlands uses a proportional system and there was an election this month 15-17 March, looks like a multi-party Coalition Government will be formed.

I mentioned the New Zealand case as they had a refrendum on electoral reform back in 1993

There is a perception that PR producses unstable Governments, in the cases of Italy and Greece one needs to look at them in more detail as to why there have been numerous Governments in recent years.
PR leads to coalitions and unstable governments. Look at the mess following the recent Dutch GE. It takes months to form governments in many EU countries who use proportional representation.
 

317 forever

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I did vote in favour of AV in that referendum. It still encourages more choice in that we can vote for our genuine preferred candidate as our first choice and vote tactically for all the others from 2nd choice downwards. It still makes the final result in each constituency fairer even if not always the national result.
 

ainsworth74

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PR leads to coalitions and unstable governments. Look at the mess following the recent Dutch GE. It takes months to form governments in many EU countries who use proportional representation.

Good job that we've never had a coalition government in Westminster in the last couple of decades. Wait...

Well, at least we didn't end up having three general elections in five years at one point. Oh...

Personally I can't help but feel that a lot of the opposition to the idea of having a democratic system that actually represents the interests of the voters comes from people who are quite happy with the status quo as it favours their personal brand of politics. For me I don't really give a stuff who stands to benefit politically and am far more concerned with ensuring that we have an electoral system that delivers governments that actually enjoy a broad framework of support and doesn't deliver perverse results. A system that, for instance, doesn't return a majority for a party that only wins 35.2% of the vote (Labour 2005: 66 seat majority) or 36.9% (Conservative 2015: 12 seat majority). Or that doesn't reward a party for having an incredibly strong local support and punish those parties that have a more appeal but spread out over a larger area (SNP v UKIP 2015: SNP 1.4m votes & 56 seats, UKIP 3.8m votes & 1 seat).

I honestly do not understand how anyone can, with a straight face, defend a system that returns results as anti-democratic as we've seen from FPTP over the last few decades (and arguably far longer than that).
 

nlogax

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I honestly do not understand how anyone can, with a straight face, defend a system that returns results as anti-democratic as we've seen from FPTP over the last few decades (and arguably far longer than that).

Standard for those in charge to maintain what got them there, and land / expand if they can. The Conservatives seem pretty good at keeping a straight face in these situations. FPTP suits them and their continued ambition (whatever that is) and they'll ignore anything that suggests that it's anti-democratic and misrepresents the country in political terms.

I should add, I'm no Labour voter.
 

mikeg

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Proportional representation is irrelevant for single member elections such as PCCs. It is however relevant for the multi member elections such as London assembly.

The alternative vote would be a good solution for single member elections,the supplemental vote really is the worst of both worlds when it comes to tactical voting. It also works reasonably well in multi member elections with single member districts if a majoritarian outcome is desired.

For multi member elections however I prefer a regionalised d'Hondt system as was used in the European parliament elections in GB prior to Brexit. Simple yet fair.

Single Transferrable Vote is good but I don't like the element of randomness introduced by how surplus votes are counted. A solution to this is to use Irish senate rules:. Count them all then divide them appropriately (forget its political science name)

But no people should see this for the power grab it is and it should not be done without consent of Londoners whether through their elected representatives or a referendum.

My thoughts on Priti Patel have evolved from "She gets on my tits but it's nice to have a fellow Keelite in the cabinet" to "Priti Patel really gets on my tits".
 
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notlob.divad

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Stable administrations are not nessessarily good things, they become complacent, whilst Members of Parliment get downgraded from representing the views of their constituency to lobby fodder for party interests.

Many of the more proportional systems rely on the parties ranking candidates on a list with candidates going into the parliment in the order that the party decides, which I am not a fan of as it does mean that party favorites can be protected from deselection etc.

Personally I would prefer to see a system that combines the proportionality of the list system with the ability to vote directly for the nominated candidates. So the number of candidates for each party is linked to the proportionality of the vote, but the order of those candidates is decided by the electorate not the party machines. Something similar to this happens in the Polish elections to the Sjem.

Finally I feel that the idea of a 'Local MP' who represents the electorate in a given geographical region is such an outdated concept it should be got rid of. Whilst I have no doubt that some are quite diligent in their job, the idea that they represent the interests of an entire constituency without fear or favour is absurd. I feel having a specific named person whom I should raise any concerns with and advocate for me, even if I know in advance that they will disagree with me, simply because of the political feelings of my neighbours, is antiquated. It would be far better to have a selection of people representing different viewpoints, where I could choose whom to approach depending on the subject matter. Even if that persons office is based in the neighbouring town or nearest city. We need to stop using a system designed in an era where it was important to have a known local representiative because it took a weeks stagecoach ride to get to Westminster.
 

scotrail158713

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Personally I would prefer to see a system that combines the proportionality of the list system with the ability to vote directly for the nominated candidates. So the number of candidates for each party is linked to the proportionality of the vote, but the order of those candidates is decided by the electorate not the party machines. Something similar to this happens in the Polish elections to the Sjem.
Additional Member System?

Finally I feel that the idea of a 'Local MP' who represents the electorate in a given geographical region is such an outdated concept it should be got rid of. Whilst I have no doubt that some are quite diligent in their job, the idea that they represent the interests of an entire constituency without fear or favour is absurd. I feel having a specific named person whom I should raise any concerns with and advocate for me, even if I know in advance that they will disagree with me, simply because of the political feelings of my neighbours, is antiquated. It would be far better to have a selection of people representing different viewpoints, where I could choose whom to approach depending on the subject matter. Even if that persons office is based in the neighbouring town or nearest city. We need to stop using a system designed in an era where it was important to have a known local representiative because it took a weeks stagecoach ride to get to Westminster.
Again I’d point to AMS. My constituency MSP is Labour, but if I disagree with a Labour issue, I could go to a regional Tory or Lib Dem MSP for example. They might represent my feelings better.
 

GusB

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For me I don't really give a stuff who stands to benefit politically and am far more concerned with ensuring that we have an electoral system that delivers governments that actually enjoy a broad framework of support and doesn't deliver perverse results. A system that, for instance, doesn't return a majority for a party that only wins 35.2% of the vote (Labour 2005: 66 seat majority) or 36.9% (Conservative 2015: 12 seat majority). Or that doesn't reward a party for having an incredibly strong local support and punish those parties that have a more appeal but spread out over a larger area (SNP v UKIP 2015: SNP 1.4m votes & 56 seats, UKIP 3.8m votes & 1 seat).
I completely agree with the last point you make here. While I detest UKIP and all it stands for, it is perverse that the views of 3.8m voters are essentially ignored.

At present, under the AMS system that the Scottish Parliament elections use, I essentially have eight representatives. The constituency MSP is SNP and they have one further list MSP. Of the other list MSPs, three are Conservative, two are Labour and we have one Green. The only party without representation is the LibDems. Under this system if there was significant enough support for UKIP (or offshoots thereof) they'd have some sort of representation. I wouldn't like it, but that's democracy.
 
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