I was watching the results of the Dutch general election on Wednesday night and I realised how much I like proportional representation.

First published in March 2021.

Most people reacted very positively to my tweets on proportional representation, but I want to address a reaction that almost always comes up when I tweet about this subject.

It is the “but then .......* would have got seats too” reaction (*fill in the detested party of your choice: UKIP, Brexit Party, Rassemblement National, Northern League, etc).

Well, yes, they would. And? You either support democracy or you don’t. If people vote for a party you dislike, you can’t take your democratic ball home and refuse to play.

Proportional representation means that every vote counts and everyone (hopefully) gets represented. Proportional representation is compromise politics. Different parties with different views have to work together.

Who wouldn’t like a bit of that in the UK right now?

We are in this mess in part because of first-past-the-post (FPTP). A system that is worthy of the term “democratic”. If Fartface had got seats in Parliament under proportional representation, we probably wouldn’t have even had the 2016 referendum.

There is something that could be done to prevent people voting for Fartface under proportional representation: make your party the better option, by actually listening to the concerns of those who would vote for him.

Saying that you cannot support proportional representation because it might let Fartface in is reductive. Democracy is only truly democracy when everyone’s vote counts

P.S. I used to think that not having constituencies and MPs’ surgeries might be an issue under proportional representation, but over the last few years I have seen how many MPs ignore their constituents anyway, so it wouldn’t make much difference.

Going Further:

Nicola James, Chairman of the Final Say For All Foundation (FSFA).


[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 19 March 2021 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Flickr/UK Parliament. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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