If, like me, you’ve looked at the numbers, it’s frustrating that such a disproportionate election result is being claimed as a ‘victory’ when the UK is now being governed by a party that most voters actually rejected at the ballot box — 56 per cent of people voted against the Conservative Party.
Regardless of which party gets your vote, a system which produces a minority government in this way is just wrong. But that’s exactly what we get under our current voting system of First Past the Post.
As a 21-year-old having voted in just my second general election, it’s no wonder people my age feel locked out of decision-making and disillusioned with politics. But I firmly believe PR would transform the way that people engage with democracy. Just imagine the society we would have if every vote cast was reflected in Parliament. A society where tactical voting doesn’t exist because you can vote for a party that represents your views, without any concern that your vote would be wasted or that it had to be used to keep another candidate out.
A lot of young people are acutely aware of the climate crisis because it will affect our generation the most. So if we take a look at how the Green Party faired under First Past the Post (FPTP), as arguably they have the most progressive policies on tackling climate inaction, then it’s shocking to see just how under-represented they are. Of the 860,000 votes for the Greens, there is only one Green MP represented in the House of Commons. So if you’re hoping for a government that will take action on perhaps the single biggest issue of our lifetime — other than Brexit — then you might be bitterly disappointed with how votes translate into seats under FPTP.
So the system simply isn’t working. It leaves millions without a voice in politics. Worse still, it forces many to vote tactically, and still we end up with a Parliament that doesn’t even come close to reflecting how we voted.
But there is hope. Now, more than ever, we need to make our voices heard and stand up for a change to the voting system. That’s why I need you to join me in calling on Parliament to change from FPTP to a form of Proportional Representation (PR).
I know young people would be more enthusiastic about voting if they knew their vote mattered.
This skewed election result provides an opportunity to mobilise unprecedented demand for fair votes. The only alternative to the current government is one that will change the voting system.
So take action today and add your name to the growing number of people who want PR. I started a change.org petition because I want to be able to vote for whichever party I support without being scared of ‘wasting my vote’ or ‘letting the other side in’. I want a vote that counts. I’m sure you want the same too. Together let’s make a stand, let’s be the change that is so desperately need.
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Article by Owen Winter, Co-Founder and Director of Make Votes Matter, the movement for Proportional Representation.
Owen was elected as a member of the UK Youth Parliament for Cornwall in February 2015. He became involved with the electoral reform movement when he started a petition for a fair voting system around the time of the 2015 general election. This petition has received more than 300,000 signatures and counting!
As well as Owen’s involvement in Make Votes Matter, he is studying History and Politics at Jesus College, Oxford.