Proportional representation

Proportional representation is the idea that seats in parliament should be allocated so that they are in proportion to the votes cast.

There are lots of different ways to decide who gets to sit in parliament, some are more proportional and some are less. A more proportional way would mean that a party that received one-third of the vote could expect one-third of the seats in parliament.

Ways of electing MPs like Party List Proportional Representation, the Single Transferable Vote and the Additional Member System, have been designed with the aim of being more proportional.

Other methods, such as Westminster’s First Past the Post, the Alternative Vote and Supplementary Vote can be reasonably proportional in the right circumstances, but will usually not be. These are known as ‘majoritarian’ and it means that a party who get one-third of the vote might get one-third of the seats, or they might get half or none at all.

Within the more proportional systems, there are different ways of electing candidates. With some, you only vote for a party, with others, you vote directly for candidates.

Rather than the all-or-nothing approach of other systems, each area elects more than one representative. The size of this area can vary according to the system, ranging from the size of the whole country to a county or village. This means that you have a team of MPs that reflect the strength of the different political opinions in your area.

Jonathan Reynolds MP spoke on behalf of the 6,000 who wrote to their MPs, the 500,000 who signed petitions and the tens of millions whose votes were wasted by First Past the Post.

A cross-party group of 74 MPs supported Caroline Lucas' motion to bring in a bill on proportional representation and extending the franchise in July 2016