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Should the UK adopt proportional representation?
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Fringe Extremist Parties could gain a foothold

The current UK first-past-the-post system prevents radical Extremist parties from sending an MP to Parliament. Proportional Representation increases the likelihood of this happening.


Proportional Representation is a voting system whereby the number of popular votes determines the number of seats held by a political party in parliament. Currently the UK uses the first-past-the-post system of voting, where voters must vote for one MP in their area. This can result in people strategically voting not for their favourite candidate, but for the candidate they believe is most likely to win in their area. In 2011 the UK held a referendum on the 'Alternative Vote', and although it was defeated by nearly 68%, it stoked a discussion about what kind of electoral system was best for the United Kingdom. One of the solutions repeatedly proposed is a form of Proportional Representation. One of the reasons against implementing Proportional Representation is because it could lead to Extremist groups gaining a seat in Parliament and therefore a bigger voice in UK political matters.

The Argument

Proportional Representation would allocate a greater amount of seats and therefore a larger national political platform to fringe extremist parties. Under the current UK electoral system, it is practically impossible for radical parties to gain many seats. The extremist candidate is usually standing in an area where either Labour, Conservative or the Liberal Democrats stand a strong chance of winning, therefore minimizing the risk of an extremist MP being elected to Parliament despite potentially high national vote shares for the party. For example, the BNP, a far-right, fascist, political party, gained over 500,000 votes nationally in the 2010 election. Due to the first-past-the-post system, they gained a grand total of 0 MPs.[1] Under Proportional Representation, that number would have been significantly higher. A study of the 2015 UK election found that if the election had deployed a PR system, UKIP would have gained 83 seats compared to the meagre one it gained.[2] For those who view UKIP as a radical xenophobic party, this would have been a negative outcome. A further study carried out at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government also drew a link between PR systems and the way they benefit radical, right-wing parties. [3] The study showed the historical link between the PR form of voting and the way it supported extreme parties gaining a foothold.

Counter arguments



[P1] Proportional Representation means the percentage of votes cast matches the percentage of seats allocated to each party. [P2] Currently, extremist parties in the UK gain a significant number of votes nationally, but are not elected to Parliament because of the first-past-the-post system. [P3] Proportional Representation would permit these extremist MPs to be elected to Parliament. [P4] Therefore, the UK should not adopt Proportional Representation.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Saturday, 22 Aug 2020 at 20:07 UTC

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