Friday, 8 May 2015

The end of democracy

There are some who will tell me that I cannot complain at the results of an election, because that is democracy. The problem is that this is not democracy. This is a broken and outdated voting system.

As a starting point, the turnout at the election was around 66% - not bad, but it means that just two thirds of the electorate bothered to vote. There must be all sort of reasons why this is the case, some of which may be valid, but a number do not vote because they don't believe it can make a difference. In some cases, this might be true - if the real choice is between two candidates both of whom are obnoxious, there is little real point. When there is no choice between any of the leading candidates, as is becoming more common, there seems little point in actually voting for any of them.

The Tories achieved 37% of the vote, and yet they have over 50% of the seats. Their vote share rose by 0.8%, but they obtained 24 extra seats. Whereas Labour, who had a 1.5%  rise in vote share, lost 26 seats. That doesn't make a lot of sense.

Of course, they are not the only party who are disadvantaged under this system. The Greens obtained 3.8% of the vote - a tenth of what the Tories obtained - and yet only achieved 1 seat. And UKIP managed 12% of the vote, and only 1 seat. Much as I dislike UKIP, this does not seem reasonable. Plaid Cymru obtained 0.6% of the vote, and achieved 3 seats.

There is more. The SNP did remarkably well, but they only obtained 4.7 of the vote - a third that of UKIP - and this got them 56 seats. It was only 20% more than the Greens, but resulted in 56 times as many seats. The LibDems managed 7.9% of the vote share - approaching twice that of the SNP - but only have 8 seats.

The Tories now have an absolute majority, and will, undoubtedly at some point, claim they have a mandate for their policies. But they don't - they have the support of 37% of those who voted. Which, in itself, represents just 24% of the electorate. So they have the support of under a quarter of the electorate, and yet they are in absolute control. That doesn't sound like democracy to me. That sounds like the disenfranchisement of the majority of the electorate.

Of course, if we did have a system of voting that was more representative, people would vote differently. Even if they didn't, I would be complaining because UKIP would have some 77 seats, and the Greens only 24, but it would have been a better representation. It would have meant that my vote was involved and could have had influence in the government.

As it is, I feel profoundly frustrated that, once again, we have a result of a fundamentally and systematically broken system. What is worse, many of the 75% who did not support the Tories will be the ones who will suffer and die under this administration.

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