Make Votes Matter: Tactical voting poll fuels electoral reform calls

The crowd rallies outside Parliament. The Make votes matter group, calling for a change in the voting system to give smaller parties more seats in Parliament holds a rally outside...

Parties across the political spectrum have signed the Good Systems Agreement backing electoral reform.

Make Votes Matter is calling for the snap General Election in December to be the last under First Past The Post after a poll found more than one in three people could vote tactically.

A poll from ICM, commissioned by Make Votes Matter, revealed that more than 11 million voters might resort to tactical voting at the next election if turnout figures are similar to the 2017 snap election. The number of tactical voters has risen significantly since 2017 when one in five said they would vote tactically.

Why are people voting tactically?

Liberal Democrats politician Heidi Allen with President of the UK Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton and Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato at a press conference announcing a 'remain alliance...

With as many as 100 potential swing seats in this election, many voters have been left with a difficult personal choice. Rather than voting for a preferred party or candidate to win the seat, some might have to cast their vote to avoid losing.

In certain constituencies, third parties stand little chance of winning the seat. Back in 2017, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party won a total of 13 seats between them (2 per cent of the total seats) despite winning more than 10 per cent of the vote.

First Past The Post, the preferred voting system of the UK, can produce a side-effect of wasted votes and create a two-party system. With the December election expected to be dominated by perceptions of Brexit, there have already been rumours about Remain and Leave Alliances.

Nigel Farage has vowed that Brexit Party candidates will not stand in Conservative-held constituencies. There is a suspicion that the Brexit Party will coalesce with the Tories if Boris Johnson needs extra seats to form a majority.

Meanwhile, the 'Remain Alliance' seems more divided. Lib Dems leader Jo Swinson has ruled out a coalition with Labour. Nevertheless, the Lib Dems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru have all agreed on a 'United to Remain' pact so that tactical voting blocks Boris Johnson from winning a majority. 

Poll heightens calls for electoral reform

A placard is held up in front of Parliament. The Make votes matter group, calling for a change in the voting system to give smaller parties more seats in Parliament holds a rally outside...

 Make Votes Matter wants the First Past The Post voting system scrapped after December's election. Instead, the cross-party movement has proposed a 'Good Systems Agreement' which sets out 10 principles for a new voting system to ensure proportional representation (read more here).

The Good Systems Agreement has been signed by a number of parties spanning the political spectrum, including the Lib Dems, the Brexit Party, the Green Party, Change UK, Plaid Cymru and SNP.

Makes Votes Matter argues that this poll illustrates a fundamental flaw in our electoral system. First Past The Post can create a two-party system, restricting a voter's choice. In turn, this leads to either tactical votes or wasted votes for a significant number of people.

Klina Jordan, co-Chief Executive of Make Votes Matter, believes First Past The Post blocks democracy by denying genuine choice to voters.

“First Past the Post distorts the will of the British people and denies voters real choice," Ms Jordan said. "When a third of the electorate feel they can’t vote for what they believe in, how can this election possibly show what voters really want?

“MPs need to make this the last election under First Past The Post and bring in Proportional Representation. Only then will seats match votes and everyone can vote for what they really believe in.”

Calls to scrap First Past The Post in favour of proportional representation have been heightened by the findings of this poll. Make Votes Matter hopes that the new government will bring the issue of electoral reform to the forefront of the political agenda in the near future.

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