How to get PR?

Proponents of electoral reform are asking: How do we get PR implemented? There are obstacles:

MPs as a group cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of democracy or of the country when it comes to the system that is used to elect them. They have too much vested interest in the existing system.

Why should we take MPs at their word that FPTP is the right system when it massively favours many of them and effectively gives them tenure for life? They are in complete control of the terms and conditions of their own employment. They have already proved that they cannot be trusted when it comes to deciding these sorts of terms [i.e. over expenses].

The solution is for a citizens convention populated by ordinary people chosen in the same way as juries are chosen (but with more than 12 members) who are given the time and space to look at all the different systems and come to a conclusion about which is the best one to change to. This can then be put to the country in a referendum.

The problem with that solution is that MPs would have to agree on it.

However, there is hope. In the last nationwide election, most voters (56% of them) voted for someone other than Labour or the Tories. Many of these votes were protest votes, but the majority of them voted for parties that they believed in.

All these voters voted for parties that’re under-represented in the House of Commons because of FPTP. All these voters therefore have an interest in getting rid of FPTP and replacing it with a PR system such as AV+ or STV.

If all these voters could get together and run a joint candidate in each constituency, they’d win by a landslide. But they can’t get together because they represent different parties with widely different views. Consider for example the Greens and UKIP, one from the left the other from the right: they’d have trouble agreeing to anything more controversial than what day of the week it is.

So what they — the Lib Dems, UKIP, Greens, SNP, PC, English Democrats — should do is form a grand coalition of electoral reform, which will (1) provisionally choose a PR system, perhaps AV+, (2) set up a citizens’ convention which will decide these issues in the long term, (3) immediately hold another general election.

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2 Responses to How to get PR?

  1. George Carty says:

    Do you support a pure PR system, or would you have a threshold (a la Bundesrepublik) which completely excludes parties with less than a certain % of the vote?

    • cabalamat says:

      I don’t support a threshold. If a party gets 1% of the votes it’s reasonable they should get 1% of the seats. This means there is a minimal barrier to entry.

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