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PR: what difference would it make?

Would proportional representation have made a difference to the outcome of last week’s HBC election? James Prentice, lead researcher for Capture Politics, a local research organisation specialising in data analysis and interpretation, has mashed the numbers to throw light on the matter.

The pie chart on the left shows the share of votes obtained by each of the parties contesting seats in Hastings.

The pie chart on the right shows the share of seats obtained by each of the parties contesting seats in Hastings, demonstrating how the two major parties are over-represented to the disadvantage of the Greens and Liberal Democrats.

If Hastings Borough Council was treated as one constituency and the votes were divided by how the electorate had voted there would be a small change to the overall result under a PR system, with both major parties dropping back – see table.

Specifically, the Conservatives would obtain two fewer seats, with Labour dropping one. The Greens would gain two of these three distributed seats, with the LibDems, currently unrepresented under first-past-the-post, gaining the final seat.

Another way of looking at this is shown in the table below. This shows the average vote for each party in the borough and the percentage of seats gained (40.36% and 50% for the Tories, for example). The column to the right shows the difference between the two resulting from the first-past-the-post system – more seats than vote share for the Tories and Labour, and losses for the Greens and LibDems.

The third column from the left indicates how each party’s vote compared with that in 2018 – a similar increase for the Tories and Greens, a big drop for Labour and a smaller decrease for the LibDems.

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Posted 11:30 Tuesday, May 11, 2021 In: Politics

4 Comments

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  1. Surrinder Chera

    Its so clear that our current electoral system is just not fit for purpose. A simple principle is that the proportion of seats should match the proportion of respective vote shares. Various PR systems attempt to give electors fair representation in this way all over the world and in the vast majority of OECD countries. If you would like to know more or to get involved, please contact:

    Surrinder Chera
    Chair
    Make Votes Matter Hastings
    MVMHastings@gmail.com or
    Surrinderc@hotmail.co.uk

    Comment by Surrinder Chera — Sunday, May 23, 2021 @ 00:01

  2. DAR

    Yes, PR is the fairest way to reflect political opinion. Trouble is, PR supporters argue about which PR system should be chosen. In my view, the PR system that was rejected under the coalition government was a non-starter (see what I mean?). Perhaps we should start at a local level with a simple system. You can vote for a 1st choice and a 2nd choice, like the Police Commissioner vote this time.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, May 13, 2021 @ 14:44

  3. Kendal Eaton

    Just imagine the result if there was a larger turn out and people had an alternative to actually vote for.

    The best way to have PR is for people to take it from the government by forming their own through rewarded participation under the Parallel Non Monetary Economy of the 99% (see below or website). local and national public assemblies would enable every person to decide their own level of participation for selected issues they are passionate on and to BYPASS the corrupt current political set up. They could disband party politics altogether – it has been unfit for purpose for far too long now – and select individual representatives for Parliament, who instead of having to battle for their own party support and other parties for power, would actually individually represent the majority of the electorate and be forced to cooperate for the public good.

    This roadmap is explored in chapter 17 of ‘A Chance For Everyone: The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy’ (FREE to download: http://achanceforeveryone.com/)

    Comment by Kendal Eaton — Thursday, May 13, 2021 @ 10:49

  4. Bryan Fisher

    Very interesting (and timely) article James!

    I wonder whether including ‘second preferential voting’ (where you choose your second choice candidate too) would make the process even more democratic? As it stands though a PR-contested election would have left the balance of power with the two minority parties – LibDems & Greens, which should ensure extreme left or right views were less likely to prevail. It would also mean that candidates would be far more conscious of the need to keep the electors on their side – unlike the local Labour Party’s current stance.

    Comment by Bryan Fisher — Tuesday, May 11, 2021 @ 16:12

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