I Wanna Be Elected!

Here is an old one I originally posted to newsgroup ntl.talk back on 10th Dec 2000.

[The US presidential election] is a shambles, but lets not forget that we also live in a country where getting the most votes does not guarantee you get the most representation.

Just for fun lets work out how few votes it would take to win a UK [general] election in the most extreme circumstances:

There are 651 seats and you need to win more than half of them to get a majority in Parliament. You only have to win them by one vote each and you don’t have to get any votes at all in the seats which you lose. Now lets assume there are two opposition parties (making three parties in total) and that they each get all the votes in the seats which you lose and one vote less than you in the seats which you win.

So you need 1/3 + 1 of the votes to win each constituency and you need to win 1/2 + 1 of the constituencies. In other words you need just over 1/6 of the vote to win.

Now that’s bad, but it gets worse. In reality not all the seats are the same size, so lets assume you win the smallest ones. Also there are more than 3 parties so you can get elected on less than 1/3 of the vote in a constituency. I reckon you could win an election on 15% of the vote. Given that only 60% of eligible people vote, that’s 9% of the adult population or about the same as
the “readership” of The Sun! QED (1).

OK. Now somebody explain to me why proportional representation is such a stupid idea…

(1) QED = Quite Extraordinary Drivel

(Note: Categorised as silly and sensible because it makes a serious point in a silly way)


December 10, 2000. Migrated, Politics, Sensible, Silly.

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