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Proportional Representation Voting: Why Unite has supported it and how does it work?

Unite voted on the decision at their Policy Conference last week

Unite, the country’s leading union, has voted to back proportional representation for Westminster elections.

Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham believes that the political class has “failed working people” and that the time has come to “change our democracy.

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She said:  “Today (Friday), Unite Policy Conference voted to support Proportional Representation in Westminster elections for the first time in our history.

“Our political class has failed working people and our system is broken. It is time to change our democracy.”

The Electoral Reform Society, the independent organisation behind the campaign to establish electoral reform, believe that the decision from Unite to support the movement shows that “the need for reform is growing and can no longer be ignored.”

A spokesperson said: “We need an end to our broken First Past the Post voting system that has for too long meant that a winner takes all mentality dominates our politics.

“We need a fair and proportional voting system to elect the commons and the lords and ensure that all voices across the country are fairly represented in parliament.

“The fact that the UK’s second largest trade union has joined the growing opposition to Westminster’s broken voting system shows that the need for reform is growing and can no longer be ignored.”

What is Proportional Representation?

Proportional representation is the idea that the seats in parliament should be in proportion to the votes cast.

The Electoral Reform Society spokesperson said: “There are lots of different ways to decide who gets to sit in parliament, some are more proportional and some are less.

“A more proportional way would mean that a party that received one-third of the vote could expect one-third of the seats in parliament.

“Ways of electing MPs like Party List Proportional Representation, the Single Transferable Vote and the Additional Member System, have been designed with the aim of being more proportional.

“Other methods, such as Westminster’s First Past the Post, the Alternative Vote and Supplementary Vote can be reasonably proportional in the right circumstances, but will usually not be.

“These are known as ‘majoritarian’ and it means that a party who get one-third of the vote might get one-third of the seats, or they might get half or none at all.

“Within the more proportional systems, there are different ways of electing MPs.

“With some, you only vote for a party, with others, you vote directly for candidates.

“Rather than the all-or-nothing approach of other systems, each area elects more than one representative.

“The size of this area can vary according to the system, ranging from the size of the whole country to a county or village.

“This means that you have a team of MPs that reflect the strength of the different political opinions in your area.”