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ThesisUniversity of Iceland>Hugvísindasvið>B.A. verkefni>

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11606

Title

Greater Fairness in British Elections. The Liberal Democrats and Proportional Representation

Published
May 2012
Abstract

The modern British electoral system was established in the late 19th century. It was originally purely personal as the elector voted for one candidate in a single-member constituency. The candidate who received the highest number of the votes won the seat. The votes cast on other candidates had no value or influence. This first-past-the-post system, as it is called, has alway been controversial as the result of the elections only reflects the franchise of the winning candidate’s voters. Less than half of the electors decide who will be elected.
From the 1920s onwards, the Liberal Party, and later the Liberal Democrats, have been campaigning for greater fairness in British elections by adopting a proportional representation system, a system in which every vote counts and the number of seats a party wins corresponds to its share of the vote. The progress of the PR system over the last century and the Liberals’ contribution is studied in this essay. It unveils an astounding advancement towards proportional representation and that the Liberals have been very influential in spite of their weak political position in Parliament most of the time.
Social changes have weakened the FPTP system and demands have increased for an adjustment in the form of PR. The support for parties other than the two main parties has substantially increased without their being rewarded accordingly in their share of seats.This exaggerates the bias of the system and increases instability in politics. To ease pressure for a change in Westminster elections, various proportional representation systems have already been implemented for elections in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland at local and regional level as well for the European Parliament and the London Assembly. Finally, it is now proposed to use a PR system for the reformed House of Lords chamber. The fact that FPTP is on the way out and PR voting is gaining ground can be directly attributed to Liberal and Liberal Democrat party policies and persistence.

Issued Date
10/05/2012


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