A short description of Direct Party and Representative Voting (DPR Voting)
An electoral system to replace ‘First Past the Post’ for UK parliamentary elections
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, as well as one 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 whom the relative merits of the candidates are important.
The 'Party' votes are aggregated nationwide, and this determines proportionately the number of votes each parliamentary party has in the parliament and therefore which party, or parties, can form the Government. Because the votes are totalled nationwide, each vote counts equally. Where each vote is cast makes no difference to the result.
The Representative vote elects an individual in each constituency. The candidate who gets the most Representative votes is elected as the constituency MP. This vote is not linked to the vote for the party, so the voters can choose the best candidate to be the local MP regardless of their party allegiance.
The system requires some changes to the way parliament conducts votes (divisions). Electronic voting, while not essential, would save time and improve parliamentary administration efficiency.
The underlying reasoning for Direct Party and Representative Voting
The DPR Voting system reflects our parliamentary democracy which is based on political parties and constituency representatives. The dual nature of an MP's responsibilities – as both 1) a member of the parliamentary party and 2) as a representative of the constituency electorate – is built into DPR Voting.
The Authority of the MP to vote in parliament
a) Party issues
When an MP votes in parliament on party policy issues, their authority to vote is as a member of the Parliamentary Party. After the General Election, the 'Party' votes are totalled nationwide. The party's share of the party votes entitles its 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). As a result, no additional party list MPs are required.
Arguably this has more democratic logic than the adjustment method used in mixed member systems of appointing MPs from a party list.
In DPR Voting all the MPs are elected as constituency representatives by the same voting method.
When the votes each parliamentary party has are shared out equally between its members, each MP will not have a single integer vote, but rather it will be an equal share. Depending on the numbers, the vote may be more or less than one and may be expressed as a decimal.
b) ‘Non Party political' issues or ‘Free votes'
When the MP votes on ‘non party political' matters they represent their constituency electorate. When an issue is not a party political issue, the party vote does not apply. For such apolitical issues - non party political divisions and ‘matters of conscience' - every MP has one vote (value one).
The Party vote is the default case – most matters are party matters but, if all parties agree, a vote can be deemed a ‘non party' vote. Thus every party has a veto and if there is no agreement amongst the parties the vote is carried out according to the party vote method.
There is no ambiguity.
c) Parliamentary Committees
Under DPR Voting, the Party Political balance of Committees would be determined by the Party votes cast in the election. In addition to MPs, parties could put forward members of the Upper House to stand on Committees, as happens currently with Joint Committees.
Voting on Committees would not change – each member would have one vote.
The DPR Voting system that makes votes in parliament 'party proportional' does not apply to Committees. The proportionality has been dealt with by selecting Committee members that reflect the overall party balance.
All the advantages and principal outcomes of Direct Party and Representative Voting follow from the underlying democratic logic of the system.
• A form of proportional representation is achieved with minimal change to the voting system.
• All MPs are elected in single member constituencies. Their democratic accountability is retained.
• The relationship between the MP and their electorate is retained.
• The votes each party has in parliament 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 voting in 'marginal' constituencies. • The system does not encourage numerous small parties.
• The system is resistant to gerrymandering
- Frequent revision to constituency boundaries is not necessary.
• Separating the vote for the MP from the vote for the party means there are no safe ‘party' seats.
• It accommodates independent and independent minded candidates - The MP relationship to his/her constituents is closer. The MP is less dependent on the Party.
• Each ('Party') vote in every constituency makes a difference to the result of the election.
The cost of introducing the new system would be low. It would be straightforward to reverse the change.
For more details, see http://www.dprvoting.org
Stephen Johnson - edit Feb 2016, first published 2010
DPR Voting - simple, practical electoral reform
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