Why should the UK change the Electoral System first past the post (FPTP) to Mixed-member Proportional (MMP)? – Biswasdip TIGELA

The UK Parliament Member election system is highly criticised at this moment because of some critical issues against the democratic norms. Most of the British people are aware that some political parties are severely victimised from the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system, such as the UK Independent Party (UKIP) and Liberal Democrats. Sometimes this FPTP system does not reflect the majority of people vote. It is easy, straight, quick and cheap, but sometimes minority people rule over the majority, that is against the democratic norms.

A good example is the presidential election of the USA. The Electoral college number elects the President, not the majority of popularity vote. In this case, technically system forms the government rather than peoples vote. Also, in this FPTP system, just a vote will make the decision, not require the majority vote. The same practices have been in the UK since 1832.

Everyone knows that there were many discussions, campaigns and referendums about the UK Electoral System. FPTP systems have certain beneficiary parties such as the Conservative and the Labour, and both parties are seemingly against any new and better system. The FPTP system always protects these two big parties, and these two big parties protect the FPTP system. If there was Mix-Member Proportional (MMP) or Alternative Voting system or any other system, British politics might be different in this context.

In 2016, EU Referendum indicated that leave EU sentiment made UKIP very strong; unfortunately, general election 2017 dismissed the UKIP because of the electoral system. It was not only unfortunate to UKIP; it was disrespect of peoples vote and people voice. It was against democratic norms. In the general election in 2015, UKIP had 12.6% popularity vote and just one seat, Scottish National Party (SNP) had 4.7% but gained 56 seats, it was one of the shameful events in British politics.

The UK is one of the politically stable countries over the world, and many institutions have not been changed. Other countries such as France, Italy, Germany changed their electoral system. France changed its electoral system and already proposed to change as well, whereas the UK electoral system has remained the same for a long time. Therefore, it’s time for change to the Electoral System either Alternative Voting (AV), Single Transferable Vote (STV), Mix-Member Proportional (MMP) or other alternatives. There are mandatory voting laws in 23 countries over the globe it may support for full democracy; therefore, the UK should consider as well.

There are more than six voting systems are in practice in the UK, that means the British government and people are fully aware of the systems in various parts and its purpose. For this the reason, they seem to be waiting for more pressure or seem eager to give pressure for the Westminster.

As we know, there was an electoral system referendum on 5th May 2011 and the new proposed AV system was overwhelmingly rejected with 67.90% against 32.10%. There were many reasons to reject. That does not mean British people are not interested in changing the system, that does not mean they do not know the better system, they are not stupid, but political parties made them stupid. If the government proposed more than two systems in the choice, they might choose the better one. People did not get the opportunity to select a better one. During the referendum campaign, two prominent political parties are only focused on Liberal Democrat and small parties gaining advantages from the electoral system; therefore, they worked against them. They just proposed the AV system and the FPTP. If the MMP system or any other was proposed, it might have been endorsed by the people because, in that system, all parties get equal advantages. Long-time ago there was the parliamentary debates and voting for MMP in 1976. During that time, there was the Hansard commission reform recommendation as well; however, that was not success through the Parliament with a narrow minority.

Currently, Scotland Parliament (Additional Member System), Wales Assembly (FPTP and Regional Top-UP) and Northern Ireland Assembly (Single Transferal Vote and Proportional Representative) are practising mean different than solo FTPT, so why not in the UK Parliament election? Political parties should not think of only their own advantage. There were many efforts to change the electoral system, such as in 1917, 1932, 1997, and as an above-mentioned referendum in 2011 mean, to change the electoral system is essential.

What will happen if the UK Electoral System transfers from FPTP to MMP? Firstly, the majority of voice will rule over the minority, which means by the people for the people idea will be executed and will never disrespect a popularity vote. In the MMP system, there are two ballot papers, one for constituency candidate, and another is for the political party. Constituency candidate will elect directly through first ballot paper, and party ballot paper will count party-wise in overall and calculate the proportional number of votes and convert to the seats, then the party will declare the winners from the top list of the closed name list. On this Mix-Member Proportional system, some countries have 50% direct and 50% proportional through, and some states have 60% direct and 40% proportional to electing the Member of Parliament.

There was a coincident, British people overwhelming rejected the AV election system through the referendum in 2011 and after a few years later massively suffered from the chosen system of FPTP in the general election in 2017. Therefore, it is the right time to advocate, campaign or make a big voice to change the electoral system in the UK. Otherwise, the UK people democracy will remain ruined and shameful in the international eyes.

There are three major types of electoral systems, Leader-Takes-All, Majority Wins and Proportional Representative; however, there are more than 70 subtypes of electoral systems over the world. The society, geography, background, and current situation will determine the type of electoral system required. The society in the UK is white Christian dominated where everyone can speak and understand English so will not be suitable for the full proportional representative system. Alternative Voting and transferable voting system are more complicated. It could be ideal for fewer voters at a high level so that we have to think about the democracy, majority decision or majority voice is the voice of the people. Therefore, a simple, easy, inclusive, popular and democratic system is the MMP, and it is widely popular, and there are more than 36 countries practising MMP system over the world, and it is suitable for the UK. Let’s change FPTP to MMP, respect democracy and avoid the minority government. Let’s promise to respect democracy and not victimise anymore to UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Brexit party.

Date: 15 Nov 2019


Photo courtesy:  standard.co.uk