UK FPP Electoral System Unfair

The First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system used in the UK is patently unfair and produced the following results:
  • The Conservative party are currently able to govern outright after 63.1% of the voters did not vote for them and they won almost 100 more seats than they would have done under a proportional system.
  • The Labour Party won over 30 more seats than they would have under a proportional system but they would have been much closer to the Conservatives than they currently are.
  • The UK Independence Party was particularly badly treated by the FPP system. Despite achieving 12.7% of the national vote (and 1/3 of the Conservative vote) they only got one seat. Under a proportional system they would have had 83 MPs.
  • The Scottish National Party did better than any other party by getting 56 MPs with only 1/3 of the UKIP vote. The SNP ended up with the third largest number of MPs in parliament when their voting percentage placed them fifth.
  • The Liberal Democrats proportionally deserved 51 MPs, but only got 8 under FPP. This was a cruel result for them. 
  • The Greens had over one million voters (3.8%), had only 1% less support than the SNP, yet won only one seat. They should have had 25. 
  • The Democratic Unionist Party somehow won 8 seats (the same as the Lib Dems) with only 0.06% of the vote, making them the fourth most powerful party. 
  • 21 MPs made it into the UK Parliament from parties that did not achieve 1% of the vote. 
The Economist has a calculator that shows the disproportionate results of the 2015 election and the four elections before. The Lib Dems were particularly robbed of representation in the 2010 election when they proportionally deserved almost 150 MPs (at 23% of the vote) but only got 57. Labour achieved an incredible domination of the UK Parliament in 2001 when they received 40% of the vote but won 63% of the MPs. 

The United Kingdom has five more years of a Conservative government that 2/3 of voters didn't want, what a crazy state of affairs! 


Simon Gunson said…
New Zealand went down this same path and previously had an identical Electorate based FPP system. It has now gone to an MMP proportional voting system, however differently NZ suffers from the lack of an upper house.

MMP would have provided a better representation of voter preference had it been adopted in the UK election, however it does not end there.

New Zealand also suffers from manipulation of the MMP system whereby large Parties seek coalition partners from very small Parties with extremist views, holding often less than 1% overall support. In practice when this happens the whole electorate is then held hostage to unpopular policies of bizarre entities. The tail then wags the dog and everybody is unhappy.

From my experience of both systems I honestly believe the solution may be to replace the House of Lords with an MMP elected Senate, but retain First Past the Post in the lower House. When Britain gets rid of FFP voting it will never again have decisive leadership (for bad or worse). Removal of FPP will result in obscene pandering.
bsprout said…
Simon, while I agree that there is the ability to manipulate the MMP system a little to get an unjust result (Act Party), I disagree with your perception of the power of minor parties in a coalition.

I would be interested in what examples you have of "the tail wagging the dog". I think you will find that the larger parties have been very much in control and most minor coalition parties have lost support through the relationship.

I am also interested in what you mean by decisive leadership. It seems to me that we have had decisive and powerful leaders under both FPP and MMP. Robert Muldoon was a decisive leader and the damage he caused to our country under FPP was a major factor in convincing people that we needed to change the system.

Minor coalition partners can be useful in limiting extreme policies and legislation. The reluctance of National's current small partners limited the excessive powers that could have been granted to the GCSB and stopped the Government from destroying the RMA.

While many people may say it was the ACT Party that drove through the Charter Schools policy, when they had no mandate to do so, there is ample evidence to show that National had been working towards their introduction anyway. They had already employed Lesley Longstone to lead the Ministry of Education (she had led the implementation of these schools in the UK).

No system is entirely perfect, but under MMP we have got a far more representative Parliament and I believe that our National Party has been usefully constrained because of it. MMP would also be functioning better if Judith Collins and National had accepted the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.
Paranormal said…
So the fact that every member of the British parliament had to pass the approval of their local peers/electorate you find unfair?

Here we have unelectable individuals remaining on the government gravy train if they are able to scrabble a position high enough on the party list.

Then there are the rorts like the Greens pulled to get Russel into parliament.

You are also missing the fact that if there had been a proportional system, the voters would have voted differently and most likely achieved the same result.

Has it escaped your notice that a similar result occurred in New Zealand last year under your beloved proportional system, where voters gave the left a hiding?
bsprout said…
Paranormal, even under the electorate based, winner take all system it is clear that there is more support for some parties than the final MP count revealed.

I am not at all sympathetic towards UKIP but because I regularly visit the UK to visit my wife's family it is clear the party has widespread support. For UKIP candidates to receive almost 4,000,000 votes but only get one MP is clearly unfair and yet the SNP had less than 1/2 the UKIP votes and got 56.

I would guarantee that under a proportional system the number of votes wouldn't be much different, because even under MMP here the electorate vote and the Party vote tend to be pretty similar.

Your gloating is unnecessary and unseemly, I have openly stated that National had a strong campaign and voters weren't given much of a choice. The opposition parties did not present a strong alternative and the final result was never about policy but image.

I think the same happened in the UK to a certain extent but the final MP count does not reflect voter preferences. Labour has benefited from this just as much as the Conservatives when, as I said in my post, Labour got 63% of the MPs with only 40% of the vote in 2001.

Even the Economist agrees with my conclusion:
Paranormal said…
It wasn't gloating - it was pointing out the voters on different sides of the world have elected similar governments with similar policies regardless of the system.

By suggesting it is image you are blaming the voters for not understanding. The point is they understood the options all too well. Have a read of this:

UKIP were guilty of running the wrong campaign. The Lib Dems have shown how it's done in the FPP environment in the past. You play a different campaign, and voters vote accordingly. That they got so many votes but so little traction in parliament is telling of the flaws in UKIP's campaign. They were trying to run a presidential style campaign when they needed to be electorate focused. That they put some real wombles in electorates they expected to win is telling.

bsprout said…
Paranormal, you claim that UKIP didn't run a strong electorate campaign and yet across electorates they got almost 4,000,000 votes. Under New Zealand's MMP system there isn't much difference between the party vote and the vote from the candidate in each election.

12.7% is a considerable amount of support across the country, 1/3 of the Conservatives support. To claim their campaign failed when they quadrupled their votes since 2010 and increased their membership by 3 times over the same time is nonsensical. To only get one MP can not be explained with any sense of fairness.

Armchair Critic said…
I think what paranormal is suggesting is that when the electoral system changes, people change who they vote for. A consequence of this is that the results from a real FPP election cannnot be directly equated to the results of a hypothetical MMP election, basically because the electoral systems require the voter to answer different questions. Under FPP the voter is asked to balance off who they want as the individual representative in parliament and which party they want in government, and they have the knowledge that unless their candidate gets more votes than any other candidate their vote will count for nothing.
Under MMP the questions are separated out, and the party vote counts unless less than 5% of the country votes for the party. These differences are important, and are likely to lead to changes in voter behaviour. These changes in voter behaviour make the direct comparison of results invalid.
bsprout said…
I understand Paranormals point, AC and it does have validity, but I just don't think it would make the difference he suggests as the electorate and party are generally closely aligned.

If the UK were to change to MMP tomorrow and immediately redo the election I think the amount of support for each party would be much the same but it would better reflect proportionality.
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