Saturday, May 08, 2010

The UK's unfair electoral system II

I spent yesterday watching the UK election, and laughing at UK commentators trying to wrap their heads around the stuff about coalitions and confidence and supply that is now The second-nature to us in NZ. The results are not final yet, but they already show us exactly what is wrong with First Past the Post:

Party% VoteSeats% Seats
Liberal Democrat23.0578.8
UK Independence Party3.100
Scottish National Party1.760.9
Democratic Unionist Party0.681.2
Plaid Cymru0.630.5
Sinn Fein0.540.6
Social Democratic & Labour Party0.430.5
Yes, that's right - the Conservatives and Labour both got around 10% more of the seats than they got of the vote; meanwhile the LibDems not only get less than half the seats they're entitled to; they also had the perverse outcome of increasing their vote share but seeing their representation decrease. The results are a perfect argument for electoral reform in the UK; their patent unfairness speaks for itself.

The positive side is that with a hung Parliament, the LibDems are finally in a position to influence who gets to be Prime Minister - and to demand a referendum on electoral reform (which, if successful, would give a tremendous moral mandate for change) as the price. It will become clear in the next two days whether they will pull this off, or end up propping up a Tory government which offers them nothing but another election fought on the same unfair terms.

Meanwhile, the question for kiwis: is this really the sort of result you want to go back to? One which bears very little resemblance to the votes cast?

Update: Updated figures.