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.

4 responses to “Voting systems matter: the overlooked lesson from Macron for British politics”

  1. The latest party I have heard of would get its voters from the leave end .of the scale .
    Equally it would have to campaign for some sort of PR system to help ‘break the mould’.
    With a negative policy on immigration (leavers) would we swallow our position(remainers) to help campaign for PR. with them?New parties put more problems in the way.
    Our election losses in Cornwall and Devon will have to be investigated. We used to have a number of MPs in the area.What has gone wrong? Are UKIP voters voting Tory? Can we address the areas fears over Brexit and give a more favourable outlook for the future.

  2. Changing the voting system is difficult because nobody likes change. Some proposed changes to the voting system require more change than others. Voters want simple voting. MPs may feel threatened by a new system that requires boundary changes.

    We need a voting system that delivers party proportionality and so allows a new party to prosper, but not favour myriad new parties. At the same time it should be similar to FPTP as far as the voter is concerned, and the counting must also be quick and simple to understand. The system should maintain the single member constituency system and not require boundary changes.

    The system has an underlying logic and many advantages over both FPTP and the various PR systems. It’s time to look more closely at DPR Voting.

    • Thanks for making me aware of this option. It looks like it has some problems but at least gives a simple way of bring in proportionality. Just a bit frightening to think that Farage could have 83.1 votes.

  3. But fair, if enough people vote for UKIP and elect Mr Farage in a constituency.
    It might change how people make a protest vote because their vote will count.
    For disaffected voters it also gives the option of voting for a party, but at the same time voting for the candidate of a different party (or independent). This is particularly relevant in the current situation.

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