Collaboration to change current UK voting system

Political parties and MPs have forged a new cross-party consensus on replacing the UK’s First Past the Post voting system with a form of Proportional Representation.

Brokered by campaign group Make Votes Matter, the Good Systems Agreement is the first-of-its-kind in British politics and outlines the principles that a new voting system should deliver and calls for a citizens’ assembly to recommend one for the UK.

The UK is the only country in Europe - and one of only three major democratic developed countries - to use First Past the Post for general elections. Campaigners claim the system means Parliament does not reflect the votes cast, shutting millions out of politics, and forcing many more to vote tactically.

Signatory parties in the Make Votes Matter Alliance - including the Brexit Party, Green Party, Liberal Democrats, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, Plaid Cymru and the SNP - received more than two-thirds of the votes cast in May’s European elections and are joined by a number of Labour, Conservative and Independent MPs.

The signatories want a proportional voting system in which ‘seats closely match votes’ and all votes count equally, wherever in the UK they are cast. The agreement calls for a system which maintains the geographical link between MPs and constituencies and allows the public to vote ‘for people rather than just parties’.

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “First past the post leaves millions of people feeling powerless and excluded; robbed of their rightful say over how our country is run. Government is much more likely to act for the common good when politicians and parties are responsive to all the people, not just a few swing-voters in a handful of marginal seats. Liberal Democrats have always campaigned for fairer and more democratic elections. I’m delighted members of other parties are working with us in the Make Votes Matter alliance to set out the principles that should shape a new proportional system for the House of Commons.”

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “We know that fair, proportional electoral systems produce better decisions and policies, with people working together to contribute to the best way forward. This makes the Good Systems Agreement an elegant way forward, as well as an essential one. It is bringing a modern, consultative, cross-party approach to designing the kind of system that will make democratic, sensible decision making the normal form of politics.”

Klina Jordan, co-founder of Make Votes Matter, said: “There is now greater consensus than ever about the need for a proportional voting system, the features that system should have, and the route to getting it. The current system is failing on its own terms so badly that the next general election will likely produce another government without a clear majority. When that election comes around, this agreement will be at the forefront of any negotiations that follow.”

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