Bella's Blog

If I could vote, I’d vote for a new system


Diversity benefits every aspect of society, so why don’t we see it in parliament? 

I’m Swedish so I can’t vote in the UK general election – well, I can vote for my local council, and I will, but that’s it. I’m also not an expert when it comes to politics and yet it strikes me, a foreigner who has lived in this country for almost a decade, how much the British political system holds the country back. I agree with what three other European correspondents (and every Swede ever) said this week; your system is weird.

There are many things that have baffled me in the run up to the election, like the lack of women’s issues discussed, the strange view that Europe is completely separate to the UK and the idea that immigration is something horrid. But the fact that your have to live near other people with the same political views as you to get your voice heard in parliament is a principle that I just really cannot get my head around. Because that’s essentially how first-past-the-post voting works; it celebrates not  individuals and innovation but peer pressure and tactical voting.

In Sweden we have direct representation – the percentage of votes that a party gets represents the amount of seats it gets in parliament. It’s that simple – and it’s democratic. Sure, it means we get coalitions all the time, but guess what, they work just fine. Parties have to work together, just like people have to work together.

This first-past-the-post malarkey that you play around with here in the UK? I’m not surprised people feel disillusioned, like you only have two choices. I’m not surprised that, ultimately 16 million people (that’s the population of Sweden x 1.6) don’t vote – not because they, like me, can’t but because they don’t want to. People want more than two choices: they want their voices heard.

The funny thing is that you Britons had the opportunity to change this in 2011, when you got to vote on having an alternative vote. Fair enough, it wasn’t exactly for proportional representation but still, you didn’t grab it. It’s strange.

With the 2015 UK election being the closest general election in near forever, the UK is steadily heading for a hung parliament and possibly even a re-election and I think the only way you can possibly solve this is by realising that you need to reform your electoral system.

We benefit from diversity in every other aspect of society so why wouldn’t we in parliament?

Here’s a long, but good, read on the matter, from the LSE.

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