British Election A Salutary Reminder For New Zealand

The unfair results of the British election are a salutary reminder for New Zealanders as we approach next year’s referendum on MMP, the Campaign for MMP said.

Spokesperson Sandra Grey said that an electoral system in which a party gains 23% of the votes but only 9% of the seats in the House, as has happened to the Liberal Democrats, is grossly unfair.

“While all who voted for the LibDems have been harshly treated by the first-past-the-post electoral system, the two major parties have benefited from the disproportionality of the electoral system” said Sandra Grey.

The British Conservative Party gained 36% of votes but will have 47% of seats in the coming parliament; while the British Labour Party gained 29% of the vote yet will have 40% of seats.

“The election results illustrate why many nations, including New Zealand, have turned their back on non-proportional voting systems.”

“The British results will remind some New Zealanders of the bad old days of first-past-the-post (FPP) when Social Credit won 21% of votes but only 2 seats; or the 1984 election when The New Zealand Party won 12% of votes in the election but no seats in Parliament.”

The 2010 British election result shows why there are efforts in Britain to change from FPP to a proportional representation system.

“We wish British voters well in their attempts to move away from a blatantly unfair electoral system,” said Sandra Grey

Sandra Grey said that around the world voters are choosing more proportional systems of representation.

The International Institute of Democratic and Electoral Assistance (2008: 23) found that “most countries that have changed electoral systems have done so in the direction of more proportionality, either by adding a PR element to a plurality system (making it a Parallel or MMP system) or by completely replacing their old system with List PR. The most common switch has been from a plurality/majority system to a mixed system, and there is not one example of a change in the opposite direction.”

The Campaign for MMP was established in February to rally wide public support for retaining MMP.

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