UK and the System of PR for General Elections
In our current system, First-Past-The-Post (FPTP), there are only two
parties capable of being elected into government, the Labour and
Conservative parties, perhaps including the Liberal Democrats as a
potentially influential party. In our 'democratic' society, if you do
not vote for one of these three parties, your vote has been wasted.
There are only about 250 seats in the House of Commons that regularly
veer between parties out of the 650 available, therefore, for a Labour
voter in Malvern or a Conservative voter in Ebber Vale your vote has
essentially been wasted, either you move to a different constituency
or you change parties, otherwise your vote will effectively not count.
This raises the question whether a fairer proportional representation
system would lead to a fairer government, but as past examples such as
the Weimar Republic have shown, proportional representation also holds
problems. The result of smaller parties gaining seats is that in order
to gain a majority the larger parties must form a coalition government
with the smaller who then gain a disproportionate say in government as
the larger party needs their support to get legislation through.
No government since World War II has been elected on more than 50% of
the vote, even the recent 'landslide' victory of Tony Blair's New
Labour won with only 41.9% of the vote. This shows that the smaller
parties would most certainly be necessary for a successful government
in Britain. Therefore, although proportional representation has
benefits such as giving a truer reflection of the vote, it can also
have undesirable characteristics resulting in inefficiency,
instability and more difficulty for the government to get legislation
passed, as much compromise is necessary.
It could be argued that the UK does not need to adopt a system of PR
for general elections because the current system of FPTP has been used
for many years and has been proved to be affective. Most systems of PR
cause a coalition government to be formed and coalition politics is
all about doing deals that benefit the parties instead of the public.
The current system used to elect MPs produces strong single-party
governments and therefore does not need reform. Since most general
elections result in a single party having an overall majority, it
means that the winning party is able to implement its proposed
programme without interference from other parties, therefore
fulfilling promises made to the electorate.
Coalition governments, which would be the result of the majority of
other electoral systems, including all PR systems, are the result of
compromise deals between parties after a general election, meaning the
programme of such governments has not been directly voted on by the
electorate. It has been...