PR would mean no vote is wasted in elections

Electoral workers count ballots during elections in Nuuk, Greenland

Electoral workers count ballots during elections in Nuuk, Greenland - Credit: Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

PR is easily understood and used by many voters in Europe

Mick O’Hare’s article on electoral systems (“High time for a new look at how we vote”, TNE #237) is a timely reminder of the limitations of voting systems in achieving ethical and representative government.

Perhaps as important is the quality, honesty and integrity of the elected constituency representatives.

Electoral reform needs to encompass candidate selection and MP behaviour as well as the voting system.

The stranglehold party politics has on MP behaviour needs breaking. We might start by making all votes in the Commons free ones. MPs’ code of conduct should require them to vote on their conscience.

The current whipping system, with its tight links to climbing the greasy pole within parties, needs abolishing.

The selection of our prime minister should be subject to some sort of confirmatory vote within parliament and not be automatically the leader of the dominant party.
Peter Badham, Chichester

Here is another suggestion prompted by Mick O’Hare’s article: the ‘weighted parliamentary vote’.

We vote and select our MPs exactly as we do now. The competing parties’ votes are added up so that each party’s total is known and each party’s votes in the House are weighted so that they are in proportion to their national score.

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Based on the 2019 election, Tory MPs’ votes would be weighted by 0.78, giving them a total of 285 effective votes (from 365). Labour weighed at 1.0 would be unchanged at 203 and the Liberals at 6.8 get 75 votes (from 11). The Greens’ factor would be 18. One defect is the number of unrepresented Brexit Party voters but this system relies on parties winning at least constituency.

The advantages of this system are: No vote is wasted; if your candidate does not win, your vote strengthens your party.
James Bannerman, Bristol

I completely disagree with Mick O’Hare’s assumption that “PR is not the panacea to our dated voting system”.

He talks about the complexities of proportional voting systems yet at their heart is one simple mathematical equation, that seats should match votes.

PR is easily understood and used by many voters in Europe and most of the world’s democracies and developed democracies. There’s absolutely no reason why it can’t be used to elect MPs to the Commons.
Sarah Hudspith, Make Votes Matter



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