It’s time to change our voting system, and the polls show it

Big Ben

With the election just two days away new polls have highlighted the growing demand for a change to the UK’s voting system.

The UK elects 650 members to parliament in one member constituencies, but if people get their way that could all change.

The Electoral Reform Society has recently released a poll, conducted by BMG, at the end of April which found that “74% of public back principle of votes proportionally translating into seats.” They said that the support was there across different ages, parties and regions.

For different parties the results were as follows:

  • 81% of Labour voters
  • 83% of Liberal Democrat voters
  • 70% of UKIP voters
  • 79% of Conservative voters

Regarding the poll, Katie Ghose, ERS’s Chief Executive said:

“Under our current First Past the Post voting system, a party can win the most votes but get fewer seats than their nearest rival. At the same time, the two biggest parties will get far more seats than their overall proportion of the vote. For many, that doesn’t sound like democracy.”

Furthermore, a new survey for the Independent and by OBR, of over 2,000 people, found that 61% want to reform the UK voting system, against the 39% who said they would like the system to remain as it is.

Time for a change?

With the election in two days time likely to produce a result quite different from how people voted it is not surprising that there is a demand for a change to the way our voting system works.

  • If the SNP get more seats than the Liberal Democrats, but on a smaller share of the vote then there will likely be an outcry.
  • If UKIP get around 10% of the vote and only get a handful of seats then many will likely begin to question our voting system further.
  • If the Greens get 3%-5%, but just one MP then that will only add to the debate.
  • And also - it's unlikely - but if one of the main parties gets a majority with only around a third of the vote there will be an even stronger demand for change.

It might have been thought that the 2011 AV referendum had settled the debate for a generation, but in this tight an election, which could produce some weird results in constituencies across the country, the demand for change could be back - and this time it will put up a fight.

The full ERS poll can be accessed here and the Independent's poll can be accessed here.

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