After every election, there are numerous discussions that come to light about possible results under a different electoral system. While it is unlikely the electoral system will change any time soon, it is useful to understand the biases that can have a notable impact on the results.
For this exercise, I used a similar approach to that for European elections, where the UK is split into regions, and a list of candidates is pre-supplied by parties.
When the votes are counted, seats are assigned according to something known as the D’Hondt formula. More details here. Jeremy Vine also did a great explainer for the BBC below.
Here are the results when the data from the most recent General Election is pulled through.
A note here that I used the House of Commons’ full published data on the election results and the region from this data to calculate the number of seats allocated to each location.
As can be seen, the Conservatives would still be the largest party, but would fall short of an overall majority (326 seats). This could have a number of implications, a couple of which are outlined below.
As smaller parties could be represented better, it might also change perceptions of who to vote for. Voters may feel more empowered to vote for smaller parties as they have a realistic chance of gaining a seat.
While many voters vote for the party over the candidate, in some areas there is less space for independent candidates to succeed. This may also have an impact on party selection because the focus is much more on the national picture than local issues. That said, it may increase the significance of elections for other, more local bodies such as councils or the devolved administrations.
Parties would have to do more to co-operate with one another, as coalitions would become the norm. As the barrier of entry is much higher to gain a majority, parties would have to remove clauses from their party rulebook to enable this. This could potentially lead to more consensus-based policy making and a higher degree of stability when decisions are made.
Of course, the voting system is not likely to change. The Conservatives and Labour have been the biggest benefactors from the current First Past the Post arrangement, and public opinion surrounding coalitions or voting reform is often negative – seen often as an academic issue or leading to weakness and indecisiveness. Some argue that the rejection of AV towards the start of decade proves this, although this is not exactly the same system as has been discussed here.
However, it is interesting to speculate how things would be different if smaller parties were more empowered, and each party had to work harder to get into power. Would it make policy-making better, or would it make things more unstable?