“Elections “winner take all” style approach. Criticisms of this

rule the political process but not the government’s policy; they do not rule
themselves” – Ian Gilmour, 1971: 136


The House of Commons originates in the 13th
century. It plays a powerful role in the affairs of the nation, despite it’
power being limited by Royal Patronage. Despite this, it provides constraint on
the actions of the government and represents the people, as it has to give its
assent to measures of public policy. The issue of methods of formation of The
House of Commons is essential. With the power to impose taxes, to vote money
to, or to withhold it from, a just and efficient group of people should have
power, as well as them having access to public departments and services, decisions
for formation are essential in order to produce the most efficient group. The
central representative function of the House of Commons is to represent the
political parties who have been elected by voters, and so determine the
political complexion. Additional considerations include members of parliament
being elected to represent the respected parties in their social
characteristics of the wider electorate.

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 The UK has a range
of Proportional Representation electoral systems across it. As seen in the 2014
elections, the closed party list for elections in the European Parliament is one
of the most representive system, as opposed to the First Past the Post. This
will be discussed in more detail later, along with the positive outcomes. This
essay will therefore discuss the formation of the House of Commons through
methods such as proportional representation (Thus known as PR) and the prosperity
of this method. A focus will be provided to which to analyse this concept and
whether this is the most successful way to elect, and whether this system is
superior in comparison to First Past the Post (FPTP).  Resulting from in-depth research into the
establishment of the House of Commons, this essay explores the view that
proportional representation electoral system (PR) among other systems may be
beneficial to the house of commons. Despite
this, the essay will argue opposing views in order to come to a conclusion as
to what system works most efficiently.


A system of PR is one in which the
proportion of allocated seats is directly proportional to the number of votes
won by a party. Currently, First Past the Post is used, a “winner take all”
style approach. Criticisms of this include a failure of true representation of
minority groups, as well as reducing the influence of smaller parties, thus
ensuring the continuity of the two- party system. There are benefits to all
methods of election for the House of Commons, however some are objectively more
effective than others. The effective legislative authority holds power, such as
to impose taxes and has only” infrequently held up major legislation”
(Britannica, 2017) 1.

Bills may be rejected or accepted, as seen in the case where the last bill was
rejected by a monarch; the Scottish Militia Bill of 1707. Apart from passing
legislation, other important business held is the question period. During this
period, opposition is provided with an opportunity to question government
policy whilst raising negligent issues. PR aims to create a body that is
representational, reflecting the distribution of public support for political
parties. Systems of PR are used globally in areas such as Denmark, Finland,
Greece and Russia. There are many methods to using PR, such as single
transferable vote, party list system and additional member system which will be


 The single transferable vote (STV) is not as
widely adopted as other systems, as it has been used in Ireland, as well as European
elections. Using this, voters rank candidates on a ballot in order of their
personal preference. Henry Richmond Droop developed a quota in the 1860s, a
method that aims to determine the number of votes needed for a candidate to win
an election. “This was calculated by dividing the total number of candidate
votes by the number of seats needed to be filled, additional with a one, and
another one being added to the quotient” (Britannica, 2017) 2.

Votes received by the candidate in excess are transferred to other candidates, according
to the voters second preference. In the case there are seats vacant, this
continues till all are filled. Due to this, results may fairly reflect the
preferences of the voters. The system provides representation for minor parties
and outcomes have shown “minor centrist parties benefit” and others such as
minor radical parties are penalised. This was seen when the Democratic left, Daonlathas
Clé, the political wing of the Irish republican army received similar shares in
the national vote in the general election of 1997, the more centrist Democratic
Left won four seats to their one. Often, results lead to a result more
proportional, with percentage of cotes for the party being equal to the seats
gained. This was seen in the case of the 2012 Scottish Local election, the SNP
gained 32% of the first-choice votes and were awarded 35% of councillors across
Scotland. For the house of commons to be elected through this, results may
include a more varied group of MPs, based on the votes of the Constituency’s. It
is believed by some that smaller parties “rarely win at local levels, where
costs are not prohibitive” (Richie and Hill, 1996) 3.

Thus, the representation of this geographical zone may increase, as opposed to
hyper-representation, a possible outcome of the House tending to become more
middle class with more male members as it has since 1945. Law making and questioning
the decisions of the Government is an important role, and to prioritize and
look after the needs of the people and the constituencies in order to create
and question public laws that can meander the future, the community should be
one that represents all. Through the STV, society may vote for the member that
they best believe can provide for their needs. A varied and representative
group can be created, as opposed to a pre-existing one that consists of white
middle class men. With the future of constituencies in hand, a community that
understands the needs is essential, created by using this method of PR as power
remains in the people.


As mentioned previously in the
introduction, A range of PR is currently in system across the UK. In 2014, UKIP won 26.6% with 24 seats, the
first time any other party other than Labour or conservative had one since
1996. Thus, in large constituencies with more than one party, smaller parties
such as Lib Dem can be represented to win a proportional number of seats. A
rising concern with PR is that extremist parties may gain power and de-stable
the political structure in the UK. However as seen in the case mentioned
previously, there were 20 parties such as the Green party that received votes
without seats, such as Britain First. One argument against PR is that some
voters may not have their view represented in seats, however in this case with
a minority group, tyranny may be prevented.


Despite this argument, it can be
said that STV has led to a lack of cooperation at a local authority level,
making it more difficult for councils to agree on policies. This can be seen as
currently there are a number of Labour conservative coalitions. In these
circumstances, two political enemies have joined to keep the Scottish National
Party out. Coalitions are not voted for by people, with the formation of these
more likely under TSV. However, in retort to this, STV results in a situation
where it is harder for one party to dominate a local authority, it will become likely
that two parties will have to work co-operatively, such as the Labour
Conservative, encouraging the interlinking and transcendence of boundaries in
order to create a better environment locally. With an election through this
method, people may be better represented with two parties coming to compromises
in order to decide on what is most effective for people, prioritising the needs
of the many not the few.


As mentioned previously, the STV is
a successful method of PR, as seen in the case of Westminster, where elections
used First Past the Post (FPTP), where votes are wasted as a party needs a
majority to win a seat. Thus, resulting in less point in voting for smaller
parties e.g. Liberal Democrats. STV ensures a fair distribution of seats,
ensuring the votes of the many count. Another system in PR is the party-list
system. Through this, the elector votes are not for a single candidate but a
list. Each list is submitted by a different party however, an individual may
put forward his own. This system is used in Chile, where district magnitude may
vary. Chile elects its members by using two seats constituencies. The overall proportion
depends on the district magnitude; the higher the proportion the higher the
magnitude.  Two principles are involved
in this, the largest remainder and the higher average rule. Under the highest
average rule, seats are assigned one at a time to the party with the highest
total. After the assignment of each seat, the party that wins is adjusted. The
original vote is divided by the number of seats won, and adding one. Another
method is the additional-member system, one that combines proportionality with
a geographic link with a citizen and a member of the legislature characteristic
of the constituency. This was adopted by many areas after the fall of communism
in the east of Europe, such as Germany after WWII.  Half of the legislature is elected through
constituencies and the other half through PR. Two votes are casted by each
person, for a party and a person. The party vote is usually the basis for
determining the composition of the legislature.


As a system, FPTP has its benefits.

In the UK, devolved elections have had lower turnouts despite using PR, as seen
in the case of the 2014 European elections, where the turnout was 36.5%, worse
than the turnout of Europe (42.6%). Some believe the result of a PR electoral
system would form a coalition government. These are time consuming and creates
time where there is no parliament, and therefore no representation. This type
of government may also cause conflict in policy making, if there are
disagreements, reducing effectiveness and compromising the representativeness
of the people due to these conflicts, as seen in the example of the abolition of
University tuition fees, leading to future instability. PR can be seen as
idealistic, as few systems are exactly proportional.


During the 1980-90s, movements
pressed for a change in voting systems. PR in Britain was adopted to the
European Parliament as well as others such as local elections in Ireland and
London. Other European countries such as Italy adopted a modified constituency
based system to reduce the number of political parties in the legislature to
create cabinets more stable. The systems mentioned previously, the STV,
additional member and party list are part of PR. This is used in order to
create stable cabinet and has a multitude of benefits.

Firstly, every vote is counted. Not
only does this give power to the constituencies, but allows seats to be
produced in proportion to votes. Thus, the phenomenon of the wasted vote is rid
of. This is also beneficial to third parties as fairness is ensured. Some argue
that it becomes more difficult to ensure accountability to electors – if a
coalition was to be formed. However, a coalition enjoying majority support can
ensure the continuity of a policy than changes in government under the existing
first past the post system. These can prove to be stable and effective. A main
argument towards PR is current dissatisfaction with FPTP. This system

may result in safe seats, a consequence
of single party constituencies. This was estimated to be at 368 seats,
according to the Electoral reform society. In a safe seat, any voters who
identify with a party that did not win majority votes may feel there is no
chance of their view being presented, and thus reduce voter turnout. Despite
arguments against PR that strengthen FPTP, PR coalitions resulting from
elections can prove stable, whilst ensuring moderate policies that look out for
the needs of all constituencies. A coalition enjoying majority support may
enjoy a greater legitimacy than a single party government elected by a minority
number of voters. PR provides a system that involves more than one method,
allowing fuller representation and fairness to all parties, a party that truly
represents its constituencies in ways that are proportional with the seats and
number of votes received.


Currently FPTP elects governments
with majorities. In the case of the most recent election, 71 seats went to
parties that were not Labour or Conservative, a large 11% of the HoC. According
to Doré, 20174, results
in the votes of constituencies may have changed under a PR method. In the case
of Cambridge, which had a FPTP party of Labour, the PR would be labour, with
51.9 vote share for FPTP; a 22.6 difference. Other areas such as Guildford were
Conservative under FPTP, however Lib Dem under PR. FPTP had a 54.6 vote share,
with PR at 23.9, a difference of 30.7. Thus, the use of PR is one that truly
makes a difference.


Having discussed both PR and FPTP,
each system has had favourable instances with their elections. This can be seen
in the case of 2014, where UKIP
won 26.6% with 24 seats, a first for any other party other than Labour or Conservative
since 1996. In large constituencies with more than one party, smaller parties
such as Lib Dem can be represented to win a proportional number of seats. There
are advantages to both, such as a clear-cut choice being presented for voters
with FPTP as well as the advantage of greater representation. In the case of implementation
in the UK for the HoC, I believe PR is successful as despite the fact that there
is a risk of a coalition government, something that may possibly create
instability, PR ensures a link between candidates and constituencies, ensuring accurate
representativeness and an association with votes and seats.







1 https://www.britannica.com/topic/House-of-Commons-British-government

2 https://www.britannica.com/topic/proportional-representation

3 http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Political/CaseForPropRep.html

4 https://www.indy100.com/article/uk-election-map-proportional-representation-system-2017-conservative-labour-7784956