Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Proportional representation coming soon?

Originally uploaded by phoosh

So some Labour grandees are now proposing to introduce proportional representation (AV+ to be precise – not my preferred variant, by the way, but it wouldn’t be too bad).

But the Tories are against. In David Cameron’s words: “Proportional representation takes power away from the man and woman in the street and hands it to the political elites. Instead of voters choosing their government on the basis of the manifestos put before them in an election, party managers would choose a government on the basis of secret backroom deals. How is that going to deliver the transparency and trust we need?

I think he’s very much mistaken.

He seems to imply that first-past-the-post gives power to the “man and woman in the street”, but how many constituencies in the UK are actually competitive? Very few, if we except the landslide elections (that only see seats changing in one direction).

On the other hand, in a proportional system, even fairly small voter movements will be translated into seat changes, thereby empowering the man and woman in the street.

Yes, in a proportional system there is a much greater possibility of coalition government, but that is not necessarily a bad thing handled mostly in “secret backroom deals”.

If parties are open about what’s absolute demands and what’s merely optional extras in their manifestos, and if they declare before the election under what circumstances they would enter into a coalition, the whole process can be transparent and open.

I think many people here think Italy or Israel when proportional representation is mentioned, but many other countries (such as Germany and the Scandinavian countries) combine proportional representation with stable government and small parties without unreasonable influence.

It’s just a question of copying the right system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *