Local people attempting to shake up local politics
On July the 6th we’ll be campaigning in Ely Market Place as part of Make Votes Matter’s Demand Democracy Day to show and build support for Proportional Representation in general and local elections.
Our current First Past The Post (FPTP) voting systems only works properly in a two party system. We’ve moved well beyond that with 4 or 5 parties now standing in our local elections. Under those circumstances FPTP can lead to very skewed results where the votes of the majority of the electorate get ignored. This is particularly evident in the local elections in our area.
In the 2015 District Council elections one party got less than 50% of the vote but over 90% of the seats. Although the balance was better in the 2019 elections we still have a Council completely controlled by a party supported by a minority of voters. If we had a proportional result no party would have overall control and the councillors would have to debate and come to a consensus on issues. As it is one party imposes its will on everyone.
The same problem exists at a county level where one party has 80% of the seats in our district despite getting just over a third of the votes.
This isn’t a partisan issue either. The party which does well from FPTP in our district loses out in neighbouring Cambridge where they have no seats on the City Council.
Not only does FPTP give us skewed results, it also skews how people vote. Tactical voting is used in an attempt to game the system in order to get around its failings. People “hold their noses” and vote for parties they don’t particularly support in the hope they will beat the party they absolutely disagree with. This means the smaller parties fail to gain support because they have no chance of winning.
The lack of support for smaller parties leads to political discussion narrowing down as their views and policies get ignored. It also leads to a reduction in turnout as people feel their vote doesn’t matter. This further reduces political discussion as politicians only care about people who vote. When people feel their vote matters, like in the EU referendum, turnout is far higher.
These flaws in our voting system should concern everyone, not just keen followers of politics. A more proportional system would lead a huge improvement in political engagement, democratic debate and representation.
It’s time we had proportional representation. Sign the petition.