Here's one way to look at the results from the General Election:


Doesn't look that equitable. Not just to the Lib Dems, but also to those parties who are missed off entirely, like UKIP.Here's a different view which just focuses on those parties who got 1% or more of the vote:


This again shows the Conservatives and Labour benefitting, and the Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP and BNP all losing out.Whilst First Past The Post is easy to understand and links very nicely to local boundaries, this is clearly a long way from being entirely fair.But this raises two questions:

1. Would a balanced parliament really hurt us?

BBC's news site has an interesting set of Lessons from New Zealand in art of coalition building. They quote the Director of the Institute of Policy Studies as saying:"We've managed perfectly well with our new electoral system, and many would say that it's been an advantage to have that system because it has generated a better policy process, a more representative parliament and probably better policy outcomes ..."

2. What to replace First Past The Post with?

There are lots of forms of PR, and they will create different outcomes. Since 1996, NZ have used a form of PR called Mixed Member Proportional system (MMP). In the UK it tends to be known as Additional Member System (AMS). According to Wikipedia's entry on MMP, this is what the Jenkins Commission recommended for the UK some time back. And it's already used for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the London Assembly. It's also used for elections to Germany's federal parliament.So maybe it's a fairly straightfoward choice after all?

AuthorJonathan Clark