Mentally accepting proportional representation

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I’ve seen quite a lot of people girning about elected representatives as if they weren’t properly elected if they didn’t get the most votes in your constituency.

Sometimes people are insinuating that list MSPs aren’t proper MSPs, calling them losers if they had the temerity to stand as constituency MSPs but “only” got in on the list, or saying there should be a time limit on being a list MSP.

At other times people are criticising the second and third parties in various council areas if they get together and form an administration that doesn’t include the largest party, and today people on Twitter were furious that the Greens in Glasgow had the cheek to increase their own influence by voting together with Labour and the Tories instead of just accepting that the SNP had won the election (getting 40% of the first preferences and 45% of the seats).

I grew up in Denmark, and I only moved to Scotland after my 30th birthday. As a result, I consider proportional representation to be normal, and First Past The Post to be weird. I’m also not shocked in the slightest by any of the above. In my book, if you got elected, you got elected, and you’re not inferior to other members just because you got fewer votes. Furthermore, I fully expect smaller parties to do whatever they can to maximise their influence if the largest party didn’t get more than 50% of the seats.

I’m therefore starting to think that a lot of Scots are still mentally living in a FPTP world. They somehow don’t consider elected representatives to be proper unless they would also have won their seats under First Past The Post.

Perhaps that’s just inevitable teething pain resulting from changing the election system, and it’ll disappear over time. If not, perhaps Scotland just isn’t ready for proportional representation. Would people really be happier if we starting using FPTP for all elections again?

I strongly believe that FPTP is democratic poison, and that countries function much better if they use proportional representation. Scotland would have been a very different place today if Holyrood always had used FPTP like Westminster.

I just wish people would start mentally accepting the consequences of proportional representation. It’s better for you!

2 thoughts on “Mentally accepting proportional representation”

  1. Completely agree. It’s still very early days in Scotland’s use of PR. It doesn’t help that we have 2 different systems of PR and FPTP.

    Also clouding the issue is independence. Pro unionism is trumping everything at the moment and leading to alliances that probably wouldn’t happen if Scotland was an independent country.

    When that day comes we’ll be more able to see how PR works. It’s certainly a huge improvement on FPTP which wastes votes, discriminates against smaller parties and their voters and leads to voter apathy in safe seats.

  2. I also completely agree.

    I would also add that for real democracy by the people, the funding of parties and campaigns needs to be by the people too. As they say “Follow the money”. All you need to do is look at the figures for where the campaign contributions come from. The figures can be found on the UK Government website.

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