With less than two days to go before the election, the spotlight is well and truly on our out-dated First Past the Post electoral system - and not without reason.
Last week the Electoral Reform Society released our poll which showed huge public support for fair votes, with three quarters of the public backing the principle of proportional voting.
Today, the Independent leads with a front page showing similar findings – overwhelming support for a better way of electing our representatives.
People are getting increasingly frustrated with an electoral system that simply does not match votes with seats. It’s time for a change.
One in ten will vote ‘tactically’ this Thursday – that is, for their second or third choice candidate, in order to keep out someone they like even less. Most people would say you should be able to vote for who you believe in – rather than having to wear a nose-peg in the polling booth. What we have now is a recipe for disillusionment.
It’s made worse by just how skewed the actual results are. The two biggest parties will get two thirds of the vote – but over 80% of seats. Meanwhile smaller parties could get a fifth of the vote and just a handful of seats. The SNP could get nearly every seat in Scotland on just over half the vote. For many, that doesn’t sound like democracy.
This election has shown how much people have changed. The leaders’ debates showed it more visibly than anything else – seven leaders debating head-to-head. The party system is fragmenting before our eyes; people shop around and support a wider range of parties than ever before. But the system can’t cope with their choices.
A clear example of this is the fact that the ERS has been able to predict the majority of seat results before the election. That’s 368 seats so safe they can already be called, and 27 million voters suffering the consequences. Opposition parties effectively abandon these constituencies and focus on the key marginals instead.
In the face of all this, it’s clear that this system is fundamentally broken – and it’s time for change.
Encouragingly, more and more people are recognising this, from all parties and persuasions – whether it’s the Conservatives’ Dan Hannan, the Times’ Tim Montgomerie, former civil service chief Lord O’Donnell or Guardian columnist Owen Jones. Now we need to put this shift in opinion into concrete change.
It’s essential that this election is the last under our archaic voting system. We need a system where people can vote with their hearts and heads – and not have to make an unenviable choice between the two. A system where everyone’s votes count – and not just those in marginal constituencies. And a system where safe seats are a thing of the past, where parties’ number of MPs are reflective of how people actually vote, and where parties don’t have to pretend they’ll win a majority when they know they won’t.
Whatever happens this Thursday, let’s build a better democracy together. Democracy is too important for us to miss this opportunity.