What’s wrong with minority election?

As much as career politicians might have lost sight of the fact, parliamentary elections are not about congratulating “winners” and defeating “losers”. Our government exists to represent the citizens of the UK.

After a minority election in a constituency, where a candidate can be elected by abusing the system, by tactical voting, or by splitting voters over issues or party lines, more than 50% of the voters aren’t represented by their MP. The link between an MP and their constituency is weakened, and the government as a whole becomes less representative.

Since fewer voters are needed to get elected, the door is open to extremist politics; there’s no need for such candidates to appeal to a broad base of support to achieve a true majority.

This smaller number of votes for the elected candidate also means that more votes are “wasted” under FPTP than almost any other system of voting. In the 2005 general election, 52% of votes were for unelected candidates, and 18% were for candidates who did not need them to get elected – 70% were “wasted”.

The potential of minority elections also leads to parties having either to merge to stop vote splitting and tactical voting, or being discarded altogether. The result is that FPTP encourages two-party systems that can’t cope with support for more parties, and blocks new entrants into politics to better represent dissatisfied voters. This effect is so strong that there’s a political science principle called Duverger’s Law about it.

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