Small parties urged to make proportional representation a red line for any coalition

Britain’s smaller parties have been urged to make reforming the UK’s “undemocratic” voting system a red line for supporting a government in a hung parliament. 

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) urged the Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP, Brexit Party, and Plaid Cymru to demand proportional representation in exchange for their support if they hold the balance of power.

Tactical voting has been a major issue at in this year’s election because the UK’s existing voting system, first past the post, penalises voters who support smaller parties.

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“We don’t yet know the outcome of this election – but we already know that the results will be build on an undemocratic voting system. Winner-takes-all results at Westminster have failed voters across the country for too long,” Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society said.

“With millions forced into tactical voting, hundreds of safe seats and electoral pacts denying millions more any real choice, it’s time to say enough is enough.

“Trust in politics is at rock bottom, and voters desperately need to be heard. Let’s make this the last election under the unjust electoral system.  We urge all party leaders to put the country first, and commit to making real reform at Westminster a priority.”

All the parties contacted by the ERS support some form of proportional representation in their manifestos, though they have not said it would be a deal breaker for them.

In 2010 the Liberal Democrats secured a referendum on changing the UK’s electoral system to Alternative Vote (AV). 

AV, which is not proportional but is designed to reduce the need for tactical voting, was rejected – in an episode that apparently killed off further opportunities for electoral reform for a decade. 

Molly Scott Cato, a Green MEP who is standing for the Commons in Stroud, told the Independent: “I have never known such dissatisfaction with the ‘two main parties’. The two-party system stifles creativity and change and feeds the hyper-partisanship that is undermining our political culture. 

“We must ensure that this is the last election where voters are forced to choose between bad and worse and ensure that we move rapidly towards a fair voting system and the cooperative politics that most voters are crying out for.”

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