The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Britain Should Change Its Voting System To Proportional Representation

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/25/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 542 times Debate No: 104135
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)




First Round Is Acceptance
Debate Round No. 1


I want to thank my opponent for accepting the debate.

My first argument is simply that the British voting system of first past the post is extremely unrepresentative of the views of the British people. For instance in the 2015 General Election the UK independence party got 12.6% of the vote. However they only received 1 out of 650 members of parliament. On the other hand the Scottish National Party got 4.6% of the vote yet they received 56 out of 650 members of parliament. There are dozens more examples like this where the opinions of the people are not represented in parliament.

Also in many constituencies most of the electors in that constituency did not vote for the elected representative. For instance in the constituency of Stirling only 37% of voters were supported the conservative candidate but he was still elected. This is a problem because so many constituents wont get their chosen representative.

Furthermore areas of the UK such as Scotland and Wales are over represented in parliament because they have smaller constituencies. For instance the average English constituency is 72,400 whilst the average welsh constituency is 56,800. That means that there are more MP's representing Wales than there are of England.

Now I will set out the positive case for proportional representation. Proportional representation is a system where the number of members of parliament each party receives is proportional to the number of votes they received. So if the Labour party received 36% of the vote they would get 36% of the members of parliament. Its a very simple method and its is used in some form by over 90 countries around the globe including, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Australia (senate only) and many others.
This system allows the parliament to be elected according to the exact wishes of the people.

I now await my opponent response.


In this argument I will make my initial argument against PR as it seems unfair to rebut in the first round when my opponent had no ability to do so, my rebuttals to my opponents arguments will come in round 2.

In almost all countries with PR systems they tend towards coalition government, this is because it is virtually impossible to gain over 50% of the vote in a European democracy and indeed this has not happened in Britain since 1931. Due to the political situation in Britain and the total lack of ability for the two main parties to cooperate this will likely give increased power to minority political parties, particularly the DUP, LD, UKIP, PC, GP and SNP. None of these parties are supported by anything like the majority of British people and this will likely result in both unpopular and unrepresentative governments.

Furthermore there would likely be the problem of minority parties not wanting to work with the main ruling parties (the Liberal Democrats for instance have ruled out coalitions for at least the near future and for many of the nationalist parties there is a good chance that they would want either too much out of a coalition for the main party to be able to enter into coalition with them. This political polarisation and inability to work with the minor parties could lead to a situation where either unrepresentative big tent parties form (see Lebanon) or there are constant problems with forming a coalition as has been seen in Belgium.

Furthermore there is the problem of a lack of regional representation under PR where under our current system each constituency is represented in parliament in a PR system we would likely seem an increase in politicians from just a very small number of highly political influential regions or regions where political parties have their base, particularly London and the South East. In addition this could mean that regions without significant political influence could see less governmental assistance to deal with their problems as they cannot directly put massive pressure on one or two elected officials. Furthermore this would lead to a lack of significant representation for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and this could result in increased nationalism within these regions

In reality however broken our current system is it is likely better than the possible problems caused by PR. However there are plenty of other potential alternatives to both FPTP and PR, the most reasonable to implement one would be AMS as seem in Scotland which provides a degree of PR to mitigate the worst effects of FPTP while also maintaining regional representation and preventing the necessity for coalition governments (although they would likely still increase in frequency).
Debate Round No. 2


I want to thank my opponent for posting his first argument.
My opponent makes the point. "Due to the political situation in Britain and the total lack of ability for the two main parties to cooperate this will likely give increased power to minority political parties, particularly the DUP, LD, UKIP, PC, GP and SNP. None of these parties are supported by anything like the majority of British people and this will likely result in both unpopular and unrepresentative governments." He claims these governments would be unrepresentative, however they would be voted for by the majority of the British people. That means at least half of the voting public would have a party in government in which they voted for.

He also claims that these governments would be unpopular. However with the current voting system in Britain we have extremely unpopular governments. The current Conservative led government is miserably unpopular, for most of David Cameron's years as Prime Minister his government was very unpopular, as was Gordon Brown's government before him and in the later years of Tony Blair's government he was very unpopular. For instance between August 2005 and mid 2007 when Tony Blair resigned he did not get a single positive poll rating by any major UK pollsters. Even before then the polls were on average very negative. This is not to claim coalition governments would not be unpopular but that non-coalition government can be just as unpopular and their is no real reason why a coalition government would be any more unpopular that a one party government.

My opponent makes a good point about the Liberal Democrats not wishing to work with either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party but I think the Liberals are a special case. They have just had two disappointing election results and their failure to keep to their promises particularly on Tuition Fees has cost them dearly after they were in government with the Conservatives. This has made them wary of future coalitions but this is likely not to continue for much longer. He mentions Belgium and I think it is fair to point out that a coalition government was eventually formed. That current government is currently enjoying a 20% opinion poll lead over all opposition parties combined so clearly has a high degree of popularity. I accept the Lebanon situation was worrying however that is one example among many others who use proportional representation to great effect.

I agree with his point on regional representation and it is definitely a downside to PR. However there would still be local governments under PR who would elected by the local community and they would be able to appeal to Parliament on issues affecting their local area. Another solution to this problem would be to have a second chamber, (replacing the house of lords) with limited powers that was elected with the FPTP to represent local communities. I accept there are drawbacks with both ideas but they are two possible solutions.

The PR system would result in only a minor shift in representation away from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so the likelihood of increased nationalism would be very low. If it did occur however I would advocate giving more powers to the devolved administrations to counter the threat of nationalism. Furthermore giving more devolution across all of the UK including at County and City Level in England would help prevent local communities not being represented which was a point made by my opponent.

My opponent mentions AMS as viable voting system but that too has significant disadvantages. It is far more complex than both Proportional Representation and First Past The Post with voters having to cast their votes several times. It also means voters have multiple representatives and that can be confusing and difficult to manage.

One of the great problems with AMS and FPTP is tactical voting. This is voting whereby people vote for their favourite party out of the parties that could win rather than voting for their favourite party overall. This is a problem as it means parliament is even less tailored to what people want. Furthermore in some constituencies that are known as safe seats it doesn't often matter what individual voters choose because the majority of the constituency will always vote one way. For instance in the seat of Middlesborough Labour gained 65.7% of the vote in that constituency. In over 40 seats at the 2017 Election Labour gained over 70% of the vote in that constituency meaning it would be virtually impossible to unseat them at the next election.
This means millions of voters will not have a vote that matters.

I now await my opponents response.
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Atheistvoice 3 years ago
Sorry I just realised I misread one of my sources about the situation in Belgium. The polls I was quoting from were from Flanders rather than the whole of Belgium.
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