Tony
Blair’s election win with 35.2% of the vote will spark a renewed debate
about proportional representation in the UK. The same should happen in
Australia. As Crikey has discussed previously, parties here have all
too regularly won elections (both state and federal) with less than 50%
of the vote. For the British Labour party to win a comfortable – albeit
reduced – majority for the next five years when over 64% of the
population voted for someone else, is just plain wrong. Most countries
in Europe choose the fairer proportional representation model where
parties gain the number of seats proportionate to the level of their
support. As a result, many former eastern bloc countries now have a
more democratic voting system than Britain and Australia.

Of
course Australia’s major parties support keeping the current system
which helps ensure their power duopoly. Eventually a string of
“crooked” results, like this British one, will force a change just as
it did in New Zealand. Anyone who genuinely believes in democracy
should be at the forefront of advocating proportional representation
rather than leaving history to take its course.

And Martin Gordon seems to agree:
The
British prime minister should be congratulated on his third term,
something that has proved difficult historically to achieve. However it
is outrageous that Labour’s 36% of the vote should convert to 55% of
seats and give a majority over all other parties (with 64% of the
vote). I understand this is the lowest ever percentage for the winning
party, yet UK Labour could have won an overall majority with fewer
votes than the Conservatives! The crowing about Labour’s win and the
absurd claims of a poor Conservative party result is really too much,
when as the next largest party it had only 3% fewer votes but a huge
25% fewer seats, due to malapportionment and apparent gerrymandering.
Britain needs to seriously rethink its electoral system; it’s a farce
of gigantic proportions.

Peter Fray

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