William Eichler 29 July 2019

Campaigners call for reform of ‘broken’ electoral system

Electoral reform campaigners have warned of a ‘crisis of legitimacy’ in local elections as research reveals the first-past-the-post system leads to widespread disproportionality.

In an analysis of the May local elections in England, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found that in 115 of the 248 councils holding elections, a party won more than 50% of the seats with less than 50% of the vote.

In the most extreme case, the ERS found that the Conservative Party took all of the seats up for election on Havant Council with just 43.9% of the vote.

This compares poorly with Scotland which has been using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system since 2004. In the Scottish local elections in 2017, no council saw a party get more than half the seats with less than half the first preference votes.

The ERS’ research also discovered that in 17 English councils this May, the party with the largest number of votes did not secure the most seats, creating ‘wrong winner’ results.

‘This research shows how our broken electoral system is distorting local election results,’ said Jess Garland, director of policy and research at the ERS.

‘First Past the Post is delivering skewed results in over a hundred councils across the country meaning many voters’ voices are unheard.

‘England continues to rely on this disproportionate system for local elections, where only the votes for the top candidate to ‘get over the line’ secure representation – all others are ignored. Spread out over thousands of contests, this can lead to some parties being drastically over- or under-represented.’

Dr Garland compared the English voting system to the STV system used in Scotland.

‘Since 2004, voters rank candidates by preference and “surplus” votes are redistributed according to voters’ choices. Most advanced democracies use proportional systems where seats more closely reflect parties’ share of the vote,’ she said.

‘It’s time we ended the broken first-past-the-post system in England – a system that continues to warp our politics. A more proportional system would help open local democracy and make sure all voters’ voices are heard.’

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Interim Head of Fostering

Tile Hill
Negotiable day rate
We are working with a local authority client in London who is looking for an Interim Head of Fostering, the local authority was last inspected as “... London (Central), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Tile Hill

Interim Head of Children in Care and Care Leavers

Tile Hill
Negotiable day rate
We are working with a local authority client in London who is looking for an Interim Head of Children in Care and Care Leavers, the local authority... London (Central), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Tile Hill

Head of Regeneration and Economy

City of York Council
£59,593 - £68,094
York is a wonderful place to live and work and it is quite rightly famous across the globe. York, North Yorkshire / Hybrid
Recuriter: City of York Council

Clinical Lead, North Essex

Essex County Council
Clinical Lead, North EssexPermanent, Full TimeUp to £57,869 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director Legal,&Governance/Monitoring Officer

Rochdale BC
£70,340 - £81,589
The Assistant Director role has breadth of responsibility beyond legal services incorporating Constitutional and Democratic Services Rochdale, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Rochdale BC

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.