William Eichler 02 June 2017

Dramatic increase in tactical voting reveals flaws in ‘lottery’ electoral system

One in five voters are planning to vote ‘tactically’ in the General Election, campaigners find.

A survey from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has revealed 20% of the electorate say they will vote for a candidate or party best positioned to keep out someone they dislike.

This compares to a figure of just 9% for a similar question asked in the run up to the 2015 election.

Another survey from the ERS also showed 63% of Brits claim they are interested in the election, with 30% saying they feel well informed about the vote.

The figures for tactical voting are broadly the same across all age groups and social backgrounds, ERS found.

The campaign group’s research discovered 18% for 65-74 year olds and 19% for 18-24 year olds are voting tactically, as well as 18% for professional AB Brits and 18% of those in the unskilled DE demographic.

Around 26% of people in the North East, and 25% of people in the East Midlands, will be voting tactically, compared to just 8% in Scotland.

‘It is frankly astonishing that a fifth of Brits feel unable to vote for their first choice party this election,’ said Darren Hughes, deputy chief executive of the ERS.

‘That’s a huge proportion of people having to hold their nose and opt for a “lesser evil” rather than who they actually support – and a significant and worrying rise on the last election.

‘This is a situation foisted on voters by our arcane voting system – one that means people often feel forced to vote for their second or even third-choice party.

‘First Past the Post leads people to try and second-guess how others will vote, rather than being able to simply back who they believe in.

‘This whole situation turns elections into a gamble around splitting the vote and trying to predict who on the left/right is most likely to win. That isn’t a democratic election – it’s a lottery election.’

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