FPTP delivers an enlarged majority for Labour in Sheffield… at the cost of voter representationPosted: May 7, 2012
Last year I wrote about the problems with how we currently elect councillors and England & Wales, about how First Past The Post allows parties with a minority of support to get a majority of seats, undermines accountability and contributes to lower voter turnout. I suggested how we could fix all these problems, by electing our councillors using the same system used in Scotland and Northern Ireland: The Single Transferable Vote (STV). Well after another round of local elections we have a yet another set of results which show how our democracy is being undermined by our “winner takes all” electoral system.
The Labour Party now has 70% of all council seats, despite only getting 47% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats also have more seats than their support would justify. The Green Party got over 10% but have only 2 councillors whereas they would have 8 or 9 under a proportional system. The UK Independence Party got even more votes than the Greens but have no councillors at all. This is unfair and undemocratic.
Vicky Seddon, a local activist and Co-ordinator of Sheffield for Democracy, had this to say about the latest results in Sheffield in a letter to the Sheffield Telegraph:
Labour must be very pleased with the election results in Sheffield, winning 21 out of the 28 seats: 75% of them.
But an examination of the voting figures overall shows that just 47% of Sheffield people voted for them. The trend over the last twenty years is of voters increasingly voting for a wider range of parties than the traditional two big contenders. In these elections, Sheffield people voted 22% for Lib Dems, 11% for Greens, 11 % for UKIP, 8% for Conservatives and 2% for “others”.
Yet apart from the Lib Dems, the seats gained (or rather not gained) did not reflect these votes: only the Greens gained any, and then only 1 seat, not the 3 that a proportional system would have delivered them.
Our first-past-the-post voting system simply cannot accommodate this change in voting patterns. We risk further alienation of voters from the political process if our elections fail to represent their wishes. We need a new voting system that can make sense of how people vote, so that they can see that their votes translate into voices in the Council chamber.
Summary of Sheffield Local Election Results 2012
The table below shows the overall results for the 28 seats that were up for election this year and compares the actual number of seats won with the number of seats each party may have won if those 28 seats were allocated based on each party’s share of the vote.
|Labour||Lib Dem||Conservative||Green||UKIP||Other||Totals||Turnout overall|
|No. of votes cast||61,036||28,605||10,724||13,607||13,612||2,662||130,246||32.77|
|% of all votes||46.86||21.96||8.23||10.44||10.45||2.04||100|
|No. of seats won||21||6||0||1||0||0||28|
|No. of seats if proportionate to votes cast||13||6||2||3||3||1||28|