Hung parliament sparks calls for electoral reform

Britain’s second hung parliament in just seven years has led to calls for a reform of the UK’s electoral system.

With no party able to secure an overall majority in the snap general election, the nation watched as Theresa May struck a deal to retain power in Westminster.

The surprise result led to calls for a reform of Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system.

The current system means the biggest party must win at least 326 seats of the 650 regional constituencies, but many argue that a system of proportional representation would have more accurately reflected the views of the electorate.

The Conservatives secured 42.4% of the vote share, with Labour receiving 40%, yet the former won 318 seats compared to Labour’s 261.

Campaigners are calling for electoral reform after the second hung parliament in seven years
Deal – Theresa May has done a deal with the DUP to retain a majority (Picture: PA)

Campaigners for reform said the uncertain day of deals was a result of a voting system that is “not fit for purpose”.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “This is the third election in a row where Westminster’s voting system has failed to do what it says on the tin – produce ‘strong and stable’ government. This is the third strike – First Past the Post is out.

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“This result shows the distorted picture you get when 21st century voting habits collide with a 19th century voting system. FPTP is meant to give us decisive victories – clearly it no longer can. We’ve witnessed the voting system fundamentally fail – even on its own terms.

“This is a massive wake-up call – voters no longer deliver hefty majorities for the main parties. With hugely different party results in the different nations of the UK, voters have hit the brick wall that is a broken electoral system.”

Campaigners are calling for electoral reform after the second hung parliament in seven years
Reform – campaigners are saying the first past the post system does not accurately represent the wishers of voters (Picture: PA)

She added: “FPTP is not fit for purpose across much of the UK – Wales, Scotland and NI are all used to more proportional systems and better ways of voting and seeing their voices reflected in the corridors of power. They have been let down yet again by Westminster’s system.

“It’s time for Parliament to catch up with the rest of the UK when it comes to fair votes.”

She said the high vote share for the two main parties masked the fact that one in five people felt forced to vote tactically and the system should ensure that “seats match votes and people can always vote for who they believe in”.

And she said while it was good to see parties exploring power-sharing, they should think about what voters have decided on by votes, not just seats.

“The voting system is broken, and this must be the last election under First Past the Post,” she added. “But rest of democracy needs an overhaul too – starting with a constitutional convention that gives citizens first say in shaping democracy fit for 21st century.”

Campaigners are calling for electoral reform after the second hung parliament in seven years
Calls for reform – historian and TV presenter Dan Snow was among those to allude to problems with the first past the post system (Picture: PA)

As Theresa May announced plans to form a government by teaming up with the DUP, others criticised the voting system that had led to the need for deals to form a majority.

Historian and TV presenter Dan Snow said: “In 100 years there have been 27 First Past the Post election. 11 of them produced narrow, unstable majorities or none at all.”

His views were shared by others who questioned a system that had not led to a clear majority on several occasions.

(Top picture: Getty)