William Eichler 22 August 2019

Campaigners warn of ‘democracy deserts’

There were 17 local authorities where the party getting the most votes in May’s local elections did not get the most councillors, electoral reform campaigners say.

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) warns that many councils across England saw the wrong party winning in the last local elections, as well as hugely disproportionate results.

In nearly half (115) of all English local councils, one party was able to secure more than half of the councillors up for election despite winning less than half the vote, the ERS found.

The campaign group also uncovered hundreds of uncontested and under-contested seats and wards in English councils affecting over 800,000 potential voters.

‘Democracy wasn’t just lacking in these wards – it was effectively cancelled,’ an ERS spokesperson said.

‘We’ve shown how England is full of “democracy deserts”,’ said Dr Jess Garland, director of research and policy at the ERS.

‘But there is an alternative to this unfair set-up. It’s time to switch to a proportional voting system where seats match votes, like in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

‘Voters are tired of their voices not being heard – let’s get on with reforming the broken system and restoring some trust in our process.’

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