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Proportional Representation Explained


You can't escape talk of proportional representation (PR) in the last few days in the UK media.

This is because the issue of electoral reform has come to the top of the news agenda.

And that's because there has been a hung parliament, and so both major parties need the lib dems on board to get into power. And the Lib Dems want electoral reform.

They want to move to a form of proportional representation. This is a form of voting system in which there is on the face of it a much fairer split of seats to the votes that people make.

In the current system the Lib Dems for instance got something like 23% of the vote and less than 60 seats whilst Labour got around 28% of the vote and yet had over 250 seats.

That's clearly greatly unfair. The reason is due to the first past the post system, and also the way that the electoral boundaries are for each constituency greatly favour Labour and to a lesser extent the Conservatives.

There are many different possible forms of proportional representation, from full proportional representation in which literally seats are allocated based on the percentage of votes a party receives, to various systems where candidates are ranked in order of preference by voters and based on this the alternative votes are also taken into account when working out who gets elected.

There are various complicated systems that have a mix of the top candidates for each party and then others allocated based on alternative votes... in summary there are almost as many varieties and flavours of proportional representation as there are countries in the world.

By: David Daws

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