Voting systems matter: the overlooked lesson from Macron for British politics

There are definitely things the UK Liberal Democrats could and should learn from Emmanuel Macron’s success in France.

As with learning from the US, however, to learn successfully you also need to understand the differences.

One major one is the electoral system neatly illustrated by this pair of vote shares:

  • 24%: Emmanuel Macron, first round French Presidential election 2017
  • 25%: SDP/Liberal Alliance, 1983 general election

The Alliance scored a higher vote share in failing to break the electoral mould in Britain than Macron did in smashing it in France. The reason? Different electoral systems.

That’s both why I’m sceptical of the chances of the plethora of new centre parties (they don’t seem to have a strategy for prospering under the UK electoral systems) and also why, when it comes to the Liberal Democrats, I’ve advocated ‘targeting plus’.

Grand plans need to work with the political terrain in front of you.


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