Listen to the 12-year olds….

The most recent UK election was in May. At the same time, my daughter’s school held an election too. There were leaflets, speeches, debates and several parties fielded a candidate. It sparked an interest in politics, and raised questions about democracy.

We looked at the national election results. They raised some questions. How can it be that the Conservative Party is in power when most people did not vote for it? Well, they got more than anyone else. OK, sort of. How is that the Green Part got 3.6% of the votes and one seat in the parliament (0.15% of the seats)? That is not fair. Well, we have a first past the post system. Then the voice of the people is not being heard, she said. Damn right, the voice of the people is not being heard.

Over 95 countries have some form of Proportional Representation. Critics say PR leads to decision making paralysis due to coalitions. Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and many other countries have it and things seemed OK there on my last visit. Surveys show people there have high trust in their politicians.

These countries ensure that the very small parties are excluded by having a threshold, below which the votes don’t count; usually 3-5%. If it were 5% this would mean the Greens in the UK would have no members of parliament; I think more people would vote for them if they knew their vote would count.

So, come on UK, if we are going to have democracy, then let’s do it properly. 

It’s always good to listen to the children.

Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

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