Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Election Where The SNP Won More Seats Than The Liberal Democrats Despite Having Fewer Votes

Electoral reform seems to be in the air at the moment - and I do agree that Single Member Plurality has had its day - and one common argument is that under SMP (or First Past The Post as it is often called) party X can win more seats that party Y despite having fewer votes.

And indeed, not all that long ago on a May Thursday there was an election where the Scottish National Party won more seats than the Liberal Democrats despite having fewer votes.

I am, of course, referring to the May 2014 elections to the European Parliament conducted on a form of proportional representation (party lists with seats allocated by the d'Hondt system).

The Scottish National Party won 2 seats on 389,503 votes, while the poor Liberal Democrats won just 1 seat on 1,087,633 votes- that is half the SNP's seats on 2.79 times as many votes. And to make things worse, the Greens won 3 seats on 1,255,573 votes - that is thrice the number of seats the Liberal Democrats won but with just 1.15 times the number of votes.

How could this happen under proportional representation, which should do as it says on the tin?

As for European elections we subdivide the United Kingdom into nations (and England is further subdivided into regions) then where a party picks up its votes is important - not just the total number of votes. The SNP's vote is focussed in one part of the UK, not spread around like the Liberal Democrats.

In the discussions over electoral reform in the next few years, bear in mind that in any system, the SNP will be punching above their weight - even in the system of proportional representation we use for the European Parliament.

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