What is tactical voting in the general election?

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Brits are deciding who to cast their votes for in the 2024 general election on Thursday, July 4.

Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Reform UK and other major parties have all published manifestos in the lead up to polling day setting out their pledges to the public and the changes they would make.

But while most people will be casting their votes based on which party wins their favour, others will be voting in a different way, using the tactic of selecting a candidate they wouldn't usually have as their first choice.

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With the UK now facing its fourth general election in less than a decade, tactical voting has become more of a talking point. The idea of tactical voting is to vote for the candidate most likely to beat a candidate you do not want to win.

The UK uses a first past the post voting system, which sees voters choose a candidate to represent their local area rather than who they want to run the country. So to form a government, a party needs to win as many seats as it can. Tactical voting is used in an attempt to reduce the number of seats won by the party voters do not want in power.

According to a YouGov study, one in five voters (22 per cent) have said they will be voting tactically on July 4, with the majority doing so in order to try and stop a Tory from winning their seat.

Some people will be casting a vote for a candidate that is not actually their top choice -Credit:PA
Some people will be casting a vote for a candidate that is not actually their top choice -Credit:PA

The Liberal Democrats are likely to do particularly well out of tactical voting, with as many as four in ten (39 per cent) of the party’s voters saying they are voting tactically. Around 29 per cent of Labour voters said their vote was a tactical one. However, Conservative, Reform UK and Green voters are much less likely to be casting a tactical vote, the study suggests.

YouGov said that the largest proportion of tactical voters (30 per cent) said their first choice would the Greens, while 20 per cent said they would rather be backing the Lib Dems. Meanwhile, 16 per cent of tactical voters said they wish they could actually vote for Labour.

A number of campaigning organisations have set up websites to help voters who want to vote tactically decide who to vote for. Best For Britain launched the GetVoting.org campaign, which it hopes will help to unseat high-profile Conservatives, including prime minister Rishi Sunak, his predecessor Liz Truss and chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

The group, which bills itself as "fixing the problems Britain faces after Brexit", has proposed supporting Labour in 370 seats, the Liberal Democrats in 69, the Green Party in three, the SNP in seven and Plaid Cymru in two. Best For Britain said its recommendations have been made in a bid to deal the "heaviest possible electoral defeat for the Government, to keep them out of power for a decade and to avoid the election of Reform UK MPs".

Countdown star Carol Vorderman is among the famous faces urging Brits to vote tactically. The TV star is backing the stopthetories.vote campaign, which wants to inflict the heaviest possible losses on Sunak's party.