Friday, 7 May 2010

Counting the Election

I watched some of the election results coming in last night. I lost enthusiasm in the wee small hours when it became apparent that no overall result was going to be forthcoming before the middle of Friday. How it takes some constituencies so long to count their ballots is anyone's guess.

I spent this afternoon amusing myself by examining the overall results (sources: The Guardian and the BBC). My overall conclusion... reinforcing opinions formed when I studied politics (A-level and first year at University)... British democracy just isn't very democratic.
In 208 of 649 seats contested (one seat has been postponed due to the death of a candidate) - that is just over a third of seats - the candidate elected as MP had over half the vote. That means two thirds of our elected representatives were not elected by the majority of people who cast their votes. Let's not even get started on the percentage of registered voters who actually voted.

In terms of seats the undemocratic system is reflected as follows - the Conservatives received 36% of the vote but 47% of the seats; Labour got 28% of the vote but 40% of the seats; even worse the Lib Dems who got 23% of the votes only got 9% of the seats.

Yes - it has always been this way; but that doesn't mean it is the right way. At one time in this country there wasn't universal suffrage... it didn't meant that was the right thing either.

Obviously the way things work at the moment if seats reflected the votes cast no one party would get a majority and government would be next to impossible.
The answer is of course some sort of proportional representation. This means that everyone's vote gets counted. Of course you can see above why the major parties in the UK (apart from the Lib Dems) aren't making much effort to introduce it... the current system suits them very well - never mind what the electorate wants.