Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Fair voting system and successful government (UK)

Prime Minister David Cameron,

You have shown little concern for the fairness of the electoral system of the United Kingdom, as shown by the support for the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system in the Conservative Election Manifesto (page 67).

Even if it looks as if your position would be motivated by electoral greed, the skewed results and wasted votes of FPTP have usually been defended by the need for stable government.

In order to secure a majority in Parliament, you have now, grudgingly, accepted a referendum on moving to the Alternative Vote system, without actually engaging yourself to achieve greater fairness.

If the greater fairness of proportional representation does not sway you, how about spending some time contemplating the ”national interest” of stable – and even more to the point – successful government?


At least some aspects of Britain’s competitiveness seem to be a major concern for the Conservative Party.

The World Economic Forum has just published its final ranking of the competitiveness of member states of the European Union according to the criteria of the Lisbon Strategy, with the top ten positions going to:

1. Sweden
2. Finland
3. Denmark
4. The Netherlands
5. Luxembourg
6. Germany
7. Austria
8. France
9. The United Kingdom
10. Belgium

If fairness is of little concern to you, how about outcomes?

You may notice that the top five rankings go to countries ─ Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg ─ with proportional voting systems.

Only after Germany, with a mixed member proportional system, and Austria with a proportional electoral system, come two countries with single candidates being elected from each constituency: France with two-round runoff voting and the United Kingdom with first-past-the-post.

The competitiveness ranking almost exactly mirrors the proportionality and fairness of the system.

Quite a coincidence, wouldn’t you say?

If you want to move from mere party leader into the ranks of statesmen, you might actually opt for more than you have promised this far.

Ralf Grahn