Direct Party and Representative Voting (DPR)

First published in 2010 |

Direct Party and Representative Voting (DPR Voting)

A voting system to replace 'First Past the Post'


We need a better voting system.
We need a better balance between the government, the people, the political parties and the elected members.

We should have a free choice to vote for the best candidate to be the local MP, regardless of party affiliation, but also to choose the best party to form the Government, regardless of the merits of the local candidate.
Two quite separate issues need two quite separate ballot papers.

Two separate votes
One vote for the Candidate you want as your local MP - on your first ballot paper.
You elect your MP to represent your constituency, regardless of party affiliation
One vote for the Party you really support - on the other ballot paper.
This determines how many votes each Parliamentary Party will have for votes on party political issues in parliament

In Parliament, for votes on non party political matters each elected MP has one vote.
For votes to determine party political issues the votes each Parliamentary Party wins are shared out equally amongst their MPs.


One MP in each constituency - for local personal accountable politics.
Simple and quick voting and counting that everyone can understand - for transparency and clarity.
Party Proportional voting - for a fairer balance in politics.
Every vote in every constituency counts - for everybody to re-engage with politics

DPR Voting is a simple electoral system designed as an alternative to 'First past the post' (FPTP) for UK General Elections.


All MPs are elected in single member constituencies - there are no MPs elected from a Party List. DPR Voting is especially suitable to replace FPTP because much of the election process is unchanged.

Simple proportional representation

The number of votes each parliamentary party has in the parliament is proportional to the party votes they win in the General Election. It is a 'Single Member Constituency, Party Proportional' electoral system
Voting is simple. Counting is simple, quick, and transparent.

Practical Electoral Reform

It requires little change to the familiar First Past the Post (FPTP) system.
No change is needed to the number of MPs, or to constituency boundaries.
Introducing DPR Voting would make voting reform in the UK relatively easy and cheap.

The Democratic Concept
Two ballot papers - one vote to elect a Member of Parliament, and a separate ballot paper to vote for the party.
The first ballot elects a single MP in each constituency (by simple majority). The ‘party’ votes, nationwide, alone determine how many votes each parliamentary party has in the parliament. Each party shares its parliamentary votes out equally amongst its own MPs (so each MP exercises one share of their party’s total vote).


Choice
You have two ballot papers – one to elect your MP, one for the party you support.
You have the freedom to choose the best candidate to be your MP, regardless of party.
You have the freedom to choose the best party to govern, regardless of the local candidate.

Your vote for the candidate you want to be your MP is not counted as a vote for any of the parties.
Your vote for the party of your choice is not counted as a vote for any of the candidates.

Power shifts away from the party, towards the MP, and to the electorate.
This encourages independent minded MPs and independent MPs.

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DPR Voting is a PR system that addresses the weaknesses of FPTP and the disadvantages of AMS/MMP and STV, and so neutralises most of the arguments against electoral reform.


See
DPR Voting - a short description (2 page pdf) or the short description as a web page
DPR Voting on YouTube
(video made in Canada)
Is it time to scrap FPTP? see also
advantages and disadvantages of First Past the Post - FPTP
It's simple - a form of Proportional Representation but with all MPs elected in single member constituencies, with simple voting, and simple and quick counting.
 
Principal outcomes:
• A form of proportional representation (PR) is achieved with minimal change to the voting system.
• The existing system of single member constituencies is retained.
• The existing system of directly elected constituency MPs is retained.
   
• The votes each parliamentary party has are proportional to the votes won in the election.
• This determines which party, or parties, can form the government
• Simplicity of voting and counting is comparable with FPTP.
   
• The election is not decided by the voting in 'marginal' constituencies.
• The system does not encourage numerous small parties.
• The system is resistant to gerrymandering (Changing the position of constituency boundaries to obtain unfair electoral advantage) so frequent revision to constituency boundaries is not necessary
   
• There are no safe Party Seats. (The vote for the MP is separate from the vote for the Party)
  • It encourages independent and independent minded candidates


- The MP becomes more responsive to his/her constituents, less dependent on the Party.
• Each and every ('Party') vote in every constituency makes a difference to the result of the election.
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Note:   DPR Voting is a 'Single Member, Party Proportional' electoral system.
Voting is not preferential. Multimember constituencies are not used.
MPs are not elected from a Party List. It is not a 'Mixed Member' system
     
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from Arend Lijphart, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California, San Diego. ( Nov 2011)

Thank you for bringing the DPR Voting system to my attention.  I had not heard of it before.
I agree with you that it represents a big improvement compared with the current FPTP system in the UK, because it is basically a PR instead of a majoritarian system.  My own preference is for straightforward list PR, but the practical advantage of DPR Voting may be that it may be more acceptable to the British public. Good luck with your proposal! Arend.
 
     
 

How does it work?

There is nothing complicated about voting in a DPR Voting election.

Voters cast two votes – one to elect their constituency MP - the 'Representative' vote, and the other for the political party of their choice - the 'Party' vote.
Each vote is a single choice - the voter marks their choice with a single X.

One MP is elected in each constituency on the simple basis that the candidate who gets the most votes is elected as the constituency MP.

As a result the voting (and counting) in DPR Voting is as simple as FPTP. It's different because each voter has one vote for the party to form the Government, and another vote for the candidate to be the local MP. This form of voting is more straightforward for those who know which party they support, and gives more options for those for which the relative merits of the candidates are important.

The 'Party' votes are totalled nationwide. Their share of the party votes entitles each parliamentary party to a (PR) number of votes in the parliament. That is straightforward and is the basis of other PR systems. It determines which party, or parties, can form the Government. In order for MPs to vote in the House of Commons the votes of each parliamentary party are simply shared out equally between its members (its MPs).
Isn’t that fairly simple? And logical.

The system combines the focus on electing a local representative which is the basis of 'First past the Post' with a vote for the party which is fundamental to Proportional Representation electoral systems.

Sharing the parliamentary party votes equally

The number of votes each party has in the parliament depends on the party votes cast in the election.This will probably be different to the number of MPs elected to the parliamentary party. Each MP has an equal share of their total parliamentary party's vote to exercise. So when voting as a member of the parliamentary party, the authority and magnitude of the vote each MP has depends on the votes cast for the Party in the election. Depending on the numbers the numerical value of the vote may be more or less than one and may be best expressed as a decimal.

Party proportionality is achieved without Party List MPs. All MPs are equal members of their Parliamentary Party, so sharing out the votes of the party between its members on an equal basis has a simple democratic logic, maybe more logic than creating extra MPs from a party list.

This does not apply for divisions on ‘non party political’ issues (free votes), where each MP votes not as a member of the parliamentary party but rather with the authority as an individual elected representative of their constituency, and has an equal vote with a magnitude value of one.

The Party vote is the default case – most matters are party matters - but if and only if all parties agree, a vote can be deemed a ‘non party' vote. In effect every party has a veto on this and if there is no agreement amongst the parties the vote is carried out according to the party vote method.


The Parliamentary Vote Value (PVV), which is used in parliamentary votes on party political issues, is the key to how DPR Voting balances the votes for the various parties with the number of elected MPs in the House of Commons.
If the 2015 UK General Election had been held under DPR Voting Parliamentary vote values would, on a simplistic extrapolation, have been (approx) as follows.

Party
p.v.v.
Party
p.v.v.
Party
p.v.v.
Conservative
0.73
UKIP
83.1
SNP
0.56
Labour
0.86
Green
24.8
Lib Dem
6.47

So you are worried about an MP in a small party having a ‘heavy’ vote. Let’s take the extreme case where a party has one MP. That MP will be the sole representative of the party in the parliament. If that MP can be the sole voice speaking up for, representing, the party in the parliament when there is a party political debate, why cannot that MP vote on behalf of the party, and why should that vote not reflect the full weight of votes determined by the votes cast by the electorate in the General Election?

Why does a single UKIP MP have a vote value of 83? Remember, that the single UKIP MP (Douglas Carswell) casts his vote on party political divisions for every person who voted UKIP in the General Election. Yes, it’s a responsibility, but in other kinds of PR election, UKIP would have had around 83 votes in the parliament.
Similarly Caroline Lucas with a vote magnitude of nearly 25 has the responsibility for voting for every person who voted Green. Under PR the Green Party would have had around 25 votes in the parliament.
By contrast, SNP MPs are over represented in the House of Commons. This is an issue that goes beyond the voting system, and cannot be solved by the voting system alone. However DPR Voting would give the SNP parliamentary party their proper voting weight of around 31, compared with the 56 MPs they have under ‘First Past the Post’. The different values of the PVV simply correct the democratic imbalance that results from the 'First Past the Post' system of voting.
Remember, because of the erratic nature of FPTP UKIP got more than twice as many votes as the SNP but only one vote in parliament, while the SNP got 56. Similarly the Green Party got almost as many votes as the SNP, but again, only one vote in the parliament.
There is a cut off point. If a party has no MPs elected but achieves a popular vote that exceeds a predetermined threshold the party would be represented in the House by reason of the 'Automatic election' provision by a single MP with a single vote.

Note: It is not possible to predict how people will vote when a new electoral system is introduced, so that the above projections are simply to illustrate the principle, and are unlikely to be an accurate guide to what will actually happen.

For more on this see Parliamentary divisions and parliamentary vote values.

Direct Party and Representative Voting
v 1.8
DPR Voting - a short description (2 page pdf) or the short description as a web page
v 1.7.2
DPR Voting - a full description (20 page pdf) or full description as a word doc
See DPR Voting on YouTube (made in Canada)


Comment:

DPR Voting is a way of introducing proportionality to the UK multi party parliamentary democracy while retaining much of the existing familiar electoral system.
It addresses some aspects of First Past the Post widely perceived as disadvantages, and avoids aspects of other proposed systems of electoral reform which attract the most criticism.

DPR voting results in a parliament of MPs all elected in the same way on personal merit by a plurality, and as such although party proportionality is achieved, the numerical strength of the parliamentary parties would not follow proportionality. It would be closer to, but not the same as, the existing FPTP system. Strong candidates regardless of there party allegiance would have a better chance of getting elected than weak candidates.

The success of the system will be determined by whether, in time, the merits of electing an individual on merit, rather than party label, combined with party proportionality, strengthens democracy.
The intention is that it will enhance the sense of representation and engagement with politics at the local level, and revitalise party politics at the national level.


How difficult would it be to introduce this new voting system?

The introduction of DPR Voting to replace the existing FPTP system for election to the House of Commons would require less upheaval than the change to any other PR system.
Unchanged constituency boundaries would offer political continuity locally, and MPs previously elected under FPTP would not be forced to find a new constituency.
Keeping much of the existing electoral system would make the administrative process of changing over to the new system easier.
Voter education would be minimised because the process of voting and counting is simple, and similar and to the current system.
The cost of introducing the new system would be relatively low. It would be straightforward to reverse the change.
 
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….there are so many different types of Proportional Representation....,
"Choose a PR system that is simple and straightforward!
Don't be too much of a PR 'perfectionist' "

Part of the advice Arend Lijphart gave to the Workshop of Electoral Systems Experts, in Berlin, (Oct 2011) that looked at PR as a replacement for FPTP in India. Arend Lijphart is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California, San Diego.

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Why is DPR Voting a different, fairer and better alternative?

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  It's simple - a form of Proportional Representation but with all MPs elected in single member constituencies, with simple voting, and simple and quick counting.
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A DPR Voting Election will tend to elect more MPs able to win their constituency election on their own merits rather than on the back of a party label.
The overall calibre of MPs in the Parliament increases. Their democratic credentials are strengthened.
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  When considering a straightforward PR replacement for FPTP, DPR Voting involves less change to the election process, offers more advantages and fewer disadvantages than any other PR system.
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  In DPR Voting, every voter makes a difference to the election result.
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DPR Voting - the electoral system to replace First Past the Post
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The introduction of DPR Voting would involve only a small change to the current UK electoral system. It would preserve the relationship between MPs and their constituents on the basis of a method of constituency election which is familiar.
DPR Voting would achieve greater equality for the voter, greater voter choice, and a simple form of proportional representation at minimum cost and with minimum disruption. It could reasonably be presented to the electorate as a fairer electoral system for Westminster.
 
If you would like to comment about DPR Voting, please email the editor
 
Footnote
The special case of the convention concerning the Election of the Speaker
It is the convention that the Speaker is returned unopposed. Under FPTP this means the Speaker's constituents are, in effect, disenfranchised.
Under DPR Voting the electorate still gets the chance to vote in the Speaker's constituency.
 
You vote for the party you want to form the Government. You vote for the representive you want to be your MP.

DPR Voting - simple, practical electoral reform


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