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Pros And Cons Of Proportional Representation


There are many arguments for and against proportional representation.

The main argument in favour is that it is the fairest form of voting: it seems to accord with natural justice that seats get allocated based on the percentage of votes received. If you get 25% of the votes, then you get a quarter of the members of parliament, and so on.

Contrast that with something like first past the post where there is a very tenuous link between number of votes and number of seats.

So the pro is clear: it seems to be the most accurate and therefore fairest representation of seats in terms of votes cast for each party.

But there are several arguments against.

First, it tends to lead to no single party having power. And that means there have to be coalitiion governments, against which there are various arguments.

Some believe these to always be weaker than single party governments. For others that is not the issue, but rather that the parliament ends up being run by something no-one at all actually votes for, a coalition between parties, and so that is not at all democratic in the sense that no-one voted for it.

Another argument against is that it gives minority parties too much power. For instance a party with just one percent of the vote could make demands above its weight if another party needs it in a coalition to form a government.

Yet another argument against proportional representation is that it can lead to extremist parties getting seats. Whilst in the UK no-one would mind things like the Green Party getting seats, there would also be seats for parties like the british national party that none of the mainstream parties would be comfortable being represented in the house of commons.

By: David Daws

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