What Proportional Representation would have meant…

A quick note about what a PR system would have meant on Thursday night.


Yes – electoral reform is on the cards. I blogged about this a week or so ago, and whilst it is a fair system, it does have caveats, albeit small ones.

So, going by figures on the BBC news website – these are the rough distribution of seats if PR had been applied to thursdays results:

Proportion of Vote (%) PR SEATS FPTP Seats Difference
Conservative 36.1 234 306 -72
Labour 29 188 258 -70
Liberal Democrat 23 149 57 92
Democratic Unionist Party 0.6 4 8 -4
Scottish National Party 1.7 11 6 5
Sinn Fein 0.6 4 5 -1
Plaid Cymru 0.6 4 3 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party 0.4 3 3 0
Green 1 6 1 5
Alliance Party 0.1 1 1 0
UK Independence Party 3.1 20 0 20
British National Party 1.9 12 0 12
Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force 0.3 2 0 2
English Democrats 0.2 1 0 1
Respect-Unity Coalition 0.1 1 0 1
Traditional Unionist Voice 0.1 1 0 1
Christian Party 0.1 1 0 1
Independent Community and Health Concern 0.1 1 0 1

Note) – numbers don’t completely add up due to lack of info on smaller parties and a missing seat.

So  – we can see that the Lib Dems do really well, as do the smaller fringe parties. This is at the expense of the major two parties, which is exactly what we’d expect — given that’s what the electorate voted for!

Proportional Representation is fair – but fair in the UK means that the BNP may get 12 seats, and UKIP may get 20 seats. Greens may get 6.

Click to embiggen

All this assumes that in the PR system the UK will hopefully adopt, no ‘margin’ (a threshold of the vote that a party has to get to to ensure it gets representation) is imposed. A threshold set at 2% would exclude the BNP, but also parties that currently have seats, and might expect to retain representation, particularly the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh national parties.

Anyway, if PR becomes a reality – we must be prepared to expect something like this. Just an FYI.

EDIT: Since I published this the electoral commission have done a more rigorous analysis of the May 6th Vote.

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6 Responses to What Proportional Representation would have meant…

  1. Zeno says:

    Very interesting. Of course, if the electorate knew they were voting in a PR election, they might have voted differently. But I have no idea what difference that would make.

    • xtaldave says:

      Yeah – it would be impossible to predict – but I imagine the left wing supporters in an STV system would vote Lib & Lab as 1 and 2.

  2. @christheneck says:

    Would be interested to know which PR system is being used here.

    I considered doing a list system analysis myself, but a nationwide analysis wouldn’t be representative in NI, Scotland, Wales etc..

    I suppose an analysis of votes using the boundaries used in the European elections a few years ago would be informative, but I don’t have the time.

    Obviously STV analysis is impossible given the GE data.

    Fun though.

    • xtaldave says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for commenting.

      It’s just a *very* basic look at the proportion of the votes – basically – 650 x [%age of popular vote for a party]= number of PR seats. Not at all rigorous, I know.

      And for the record – I prefer the STV system of PR. The Australian senate system or something along those lines would be ideal.

      Cheers,

      Dave

  3. Thanks for this Dave, v interesting. But bear in mind voting opportunity. i.e. In most constituencies people didn’t have the chance to vote for a green. And as Zeno says, ppl might vote differently under PR. So this prob underestimates the green vote. But likewise for BNP…

  4. xtaldave says:

    For those following this post – since I published this the electoral commission have done a more rigorous analysis of the May 6th Vote.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/10/alternative-vote-minimal-impact-general-election

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