806,116 votes in Wales counted for nothing say campaigners as they call for new voting system

A polling station in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. Picture by Catrin Davies

806,116 votes in Wales counted for nothing because of the First Past the Post system of electing MPs, the Electoral Reform Society said.

52.2% of votes cast in Wales did not go towards the MP chosen by electors to represent the seat.

Ynys Môn was one of the seats won with the smallest share of the vote. 64.5% of electors voted for a candidate other than the Conservative who won the seat.

Only four seats in the UK were won with a smaller share of the vote than Ynys Môn. The Electoral Reform Society is calling for a more proportional system.

Senedd elections in Wales already use a proportional representation system where the number of members selected is much closer to their share of the vote.

The ERS also highlighted ‘warped’ results. The Conservatives’ share of the vote only went up 2.5% in Wales but their share of the seats went up 15%.

 

‘No choice’

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said that First Past the Post had left millions of voters “totally unrepresented”.

“These warped results are hard-wired into Westminster’s winner-takes-all voting system,” he said.

“It’s a stark reality that the majority of people did not vote for their MP. Westminster’s electoral system is not just bust, it is bankrupt. First Past the Post politics has driven a coach and horses through attempts at dialogue, compromise and cooperation.

“We can’t go on like this. It’s time for Westminster to catch up with most developed democracies and back a genuinely fair, democratic politics – where seats match votes and all voters are heard.

“First Past the Post is forcing people to ‘hold their nose’ every election. It is reducing choice through back-door party pacts. And it is leaving voters alienated and excluded, while warping our national debate.

“We urge all parties to put principle first and bring our political system into the 21st century. With trust in our institutions at rock bottom, this is a vital first step to building a better politics.”

 

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Eos Pengwern
Guest

The entire premise of the ‘Remain Alliance’ was to make the 854,572 votes for ‘Leave’ in the 2016 referendum count for nothing.

What’s sauce for the goose…

Helen Smith
Member
Helen Smith

We need to bear in mind the age distribution of those who voted either way in the 2016 referendum, and the demographic change which will have naturally occurred since then – quite the opposite to the age distribution of those who voted either way in the 1997 Devolution referendum, where the majority of those in favour of devolution were young. This fact was borne out in 2011, when the majority of Welsh voters were in favour of enhancing the powers of the then Assembly. Bearing in mind the demographic change which will have occurred since 2016, I’m sure most Welsh… Read more »

Eos Pengwern
Guest

I think the election results, particularly the utter failure of the Liberal Democrats, demonstrate that the most significant shift within the electorate is the number of people of all ages who may well have voted Remain in 2016 but who don’t want to live in a country where democratic votes are ignored and the people who made them are insulted. And your point about people and circumstances changing over time is a fair one. There’s a compelling argument that in due course we should have another referendum about re-joining the EU, if there’s sufficient demand for one (i.e. if a… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Actually you will find the vote share for the Liberal Democrats actually rose since the last GE in 2017 but translated into fewer seats won and so highlighting the unfairness of the FPTP system. Secondly, parties that either wanted to Remain or who were advocating for a second referendum attained more votes than parties that wanted Brexit, disenfranchising millions. The Tories spout a second referendum to be anti-democratic when they refuse to change our archaic voting system because it benefits them – pure hypocrisy ! It shows they are not really interested in democracy just staying in power at all… Read more »

Robert Trzebiatowski
Guest
Robert Trzebiatowski

When we voted in 2016 there were 3 ways things could end up. No deal, Some kind of a Deal, and Remain. Those are incompatible option. So a two option question is total incable of indicating which of the 3 options people prefer. That means that the question asked in 2016 had a serious flaw and should never have been approved. Now I have a few question for you. In what way is the people deciding to instruct the government not to implement previous instructions to the government not compatible with the people making the decisions? A definition of democracy.… Read more »

Robert Trzebiatowski
Guest
Robert Trzebiatowski

You said that you must enact a referendum before moving onto the next one and made reference to people not wanting to live in a country where democratic votes are ignored.

That leaves me with a question for you.

In what way is the Electorate desidding to give instructions to the Government not to implement the result of a previous referendum not compatible with the Electorate making the decisions.

For what you said to be true there must be a logically sound answer to that question.

So since you made that statement. What is the answer to that question?

Plain citizen
Guest
Plain citizen

We’ve already done this a few years ago in Cons/LibDem coalition. FPP gives changes in voting a definite result not years of staggering coalitions. Losers always whinge about ‘the system’. If labour had run a decent campaign with a credible leader this discussion would not exist.

KK
Guest
KK

Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on, the FPTP is seriously flawed and has been for decades. The SDP polled highly in 1983 but came away with nothing to show whilst UKIP also polled highly in 2015 and came away with just the one seat. It is a system that is seriously flawed and fails to take in the views and opinions of the many not just the interests of the few. Insofar as coalitions and instability is concerned, not everywhere is the same with Germany providing strong and robust modes of governing (and the Senedd) whilst… Read more »

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

Various forms of P.R are good for electing the national leadership. However they must also provide for an adequate level of local, constituency based representation. Farage was whining about it but he also has to face facts that in many constituencies his candidates were mid or back of the pack. Whatever system is put into place it will produce beneficiaries and losers. Best thing is to develop a revision run it for say 10 years and see how well or badly it works.

Helen Smith
Member
Helen Smith

A ‘ranking’ system might work, the same as the one used to elect Police Commissioners, where voters are asked to number the candidates in priority order. They don’t have to assign a number to each and every candidate, but a second choice, at least, provides a good idea as to whether voters whsh to elect a progressive candidate or a reactionary one.

Dave Jones
Guest
Dave Jones

You mention in Ynys Mon that 64.5% voted for a candidate other than conservative, but we live in a democratic society and the candidate was elected as she obtained the highest number of votes. Similarly you could state that 71.6% voted for a candidate other than Plaid Cymru. In Scotland Sturgeon is calling for a second refurendum as the SNP won 80% of Scottish seats – but with only 45% of the overall votes. And not all the SNP voters wanted leave. Politicians will always twist and distort figures as the press do. Brexit will now go ahead as the… Read more »

Cerydd
Guest
Cerydd

I’d say the observations here in favour of electoral reform do not amount to “moaning” – a poisonously divisive word used far too frequently in the last 3 years. This is not about tiddlywinks but finding a way to deal with a broken electoral system that affects real people’s real-life prospects.
Certainly not all the SNP voters wanted leave UK in this election, but in the 2015 independence vote the Westminster clique told them staying in the UK would keep them in the EU as well. Slate wiped clean.

Gwylon Phillips
Guest
Gwylon Phillips

My vote has never counted in Westminster elections.

Leigh Richards
Guest
Leigh Richards

Alas we in Wales are used to feeling disenfranchised and seeing our votes count for nothing – the tories have never won a majority of seats in Wales but we’ve had to endure Tory govt’s at Westminster time and time again! #indywales

Aled Evans
Guest
Aled Evans

If I’m correct in my analysis, I observed that around 11% voted for the Lib Dems resulting in 11 seats, while with around 30% voting for Labour, they ended up with around 200 seats! Somehow, the first past the post system seems flawed and unfair?

Simon Gruffydd
Guest

People have been criticising the first past the post system for as long as I can remember. The reason it doesn’t change is because the political party that profits from the system and forms the government has no incentive to change it. It would be like sawing off the limb you are sitting on. It makes no difference which political party gets in power, the situation remains the same. A good example of that is the Liberal Party of Canada who took back power from the Conservative Party on a platform of introducing proportional representation. Once they were in, the… Read more »

Jonathan Gammond
Guest
Jonathan Gammond

Once a Welsh local authority introduces STV, we should hopefully see it spread throughout Wales and then we need to put pressure on Cardiff Bay to change the way AMs elected. If we, the voters , could rank the candidates on the regional list then the current system would be defensible, albeit still wanting. However the party hierarchies wanted to keep that power to themselves so proving they arent really interested in ensuring popular representation but rather only that of their friends. Roll on STV and multi member constituencies which keeps the local link but with more powers to the… Read more »

jr humphrys
Guest
jr humphrys

For Cymru, yes! But won’t make any difference for Westminster, which now becomes just a waste of time for Wales, as N Ireland and Scotland going still means; England is the new UK.
(Slightly off topic, viewed from Europe Al Johnson with 43%. Corby with 32%, Swinson with 11% looks quite normal. SDP in Finland rule with about 21%, and Centre, Swedish, Greens make up the cabinet posts. 32 % would be a dream for any Nordic party.)

Arty1
Guest
Arty1

And that does not take into account people like me who didn’t even vote because of this ridiculous system

Cerydd
Guest
Cerydd

In the 1990s, when I was involved in elections, it was usual for candidates and their agents to be shown ballot papers that had been irregularly completed. One example was where a voter had obliterated my name with a mass of crossings out. My opponent claimed the vote on the basis that, as he said, “the voter’s intention was clear” and the returning officer accepted that. The ballot paper could have been declared invalid, because voters aren’t allowed to add anything that allows them to be identified, and I knew my patch and I knew exactly which rude cow had… Read more »

Christopher Williams
Guest
Christopher Williams

Sadly, the rigged system will NEVER change.

Bev
Guest
Bev

50% of south Caenarvonshire and Merioneth wasn’t for Liz Saville but they still got her, pointless article.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Which proves the article’s point about the shortcomings of FPTP. (With 50%, LSR would be elected under PR as well, by the way).