It’s official: this election was the most disproportionate in UK history.
We’ve just released our new report on the May 7th General Election, A Voting System in Crisis. And it makes for worrying reading for fans of democracy.
The report, launched today, has already hit the headlines, with ERS Chief Executive Katie Ghose appearing on BBC Breakfast, the Today programme, Daily Politics, Radio 5 Live, Sky, ITN and Channel 5 to discuss it already. We found:
- 50% of votes in the election (15m) went to losing candidates, while 74% of votes (22m) were ‘wasted’ – i.e. they didn’t contribute to electing the MP
- 2.8m voters were likely to have voted ‘tactically’ – over 9% of voters
- Under a more proportional voting system – the Single Transferable Vote – the Conservatives would have won 276 seats to Labour’s 236, while the SNP would have secured 34, UKIP 54 and the Lib Dems 26. The Greens would have won two more seats – in Bristol and London
- The ERS was able to call the winner correctly in 363 of 368 seats – a month before polling day – due to the prevalence of ‘safe seats’ under First Past the Post
- This election saw an MP win on the lowest vote share in electoral history – 24.5% in South Belfast
- 331 of 650 MPs were elected on under 50% of the vote, and 191 with less than 30% of the electorate.
The problem goes deeper than these shocking statistics though. First Past the Post is artificially exaggerating divides in the UK – giving the SNP nearly all Scottish seats on half the vote, while excluding Labour from the South of England and over-representing them in Wales and under-representing the Conservatives in the North of England and Scotland.
At the same time, cross-community parties in Northern Ireland got a tenth of the vote and no seats, yet the DUP received nearly half the seats on just a quarter of the vote. This situation is unsustainable if the Prime Minister truly wants a ‘one nation’ Britain.
It doesn’t have to be like this
But it’s not all terrible news. There are better ways of doing elections – after all, we’re the last country in Europe to use the outdated and broken system of First Past the Post.
We commissioned YouGov to find out voters’ party preferences so that we could work out what the results might have looked like under different voting systems: