U.K. Vote Proves Electoral System Needs Fixing, Lobby Group Says

The voting system that helped Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives win a surprise victory in last month’s election is unfair, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

For general elections, the U.K. adopts a constituency-based “first-past-the-post” method in which the candidate with the most votes, though not necessarily a majority, wins. Voters can choose just one candidate.

“Few parties saw their vote shares fairly reflected in terms of seats,” the London-based society’s chief executive officer, Katie Ghose, wrote in a report published Monday. “Few can look at those figures and think that the voting system is working for our democracy,” she said.

Cameron’s Tories won more than half of the 650 seats in the House of Commons on May 7 with 36.9 percent of the popular vote. Nigel Farage’s U.K. Independence Party won just one seat despite almost 4 million voters -- 12.6 percent -- backing the anti-immigration movement.

In Scotland, the separatist Scottish National Party won all but three of the country’s 59 seats even though half of Scots supported other parties.

The Electoral Reform Society recommends switching to a system with multimember constituencies in which voters rank candidates, as used in the Irish Republic. Britain rejected switching to an “alternative vote” system, in which voters’ second and further choices in single districts are taken into account, in a 2011 referendum.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE