Posted by: nastylittletruths | May 7, 2010

First Past The Post

What a horrible electoral system… One which have endured for decades simply because it is so easily manipulated.

I’ve had the BBC website open since this morning checking results as the seats are declared, and as of time of writing, only one remains.

If the COP in 2007 thought they were unlucky, look at these numbers… The UK Independence Party and the British National Party between them received 1.48m votes and no seats. 5% of the total vote cast and not one seat out of the 650. On the other hand, the Democratic Unionist Party received only 168,000 votes but won eight seats. In a bizarre twist, 0.6% of the votes cast has more say in the UK parliament than 1.48m people. Similarly, the Scottish National Party received three times more votes than the DUP, but only six seats. And the list goes on, but visit the site and see for your self.

Now the PNM has always held the position that proportional representation is a “recipe for disaster” and held up Guyana as a model not to be emulated. The fact is, first past the post (FPTP) is not democratic. People’s votes are wasted in the millions if they are one behind the winner. How can this be democratic when people who understand how the system works withdraw and do not participate?

Since the time of 36 seats in Trinidad, and the results could be had by the outcome of only five constituencies, I’ve advocated for a change in the way we vote. How would you feel if you live in Siparia (14,000 plus votes for the UNC candidate) and you wanted to vote for someone else? Makes no sense exercising your franchise right? And what if (in the old 36 seats days) someone said a general election is at hand but voting will take place only in the five marginals? Now the other 31 would feel very upset and annoyed, but will it make a difference in the result? Hell, no… The Electoral Reform Society in the UK has some interesting reading about the many disadvantages of FPTP:

I would love to see a real Representation of the People Act that considers everyone in TnT voting for one man or woman (all our votes will then count!) who calls the shots for 4 to 5 years, limited to two terms, can choose whoever he/she wants to form a Cabinet and accountable to representatives  voted into Parliament by the people in a style similar to the US. Cabinet should always answer to elected members…

I can dream, can’t I? I know that my vote won’t count and neither anyone else in my household as we will be overwhelmed by the Red Army/300k on election day.


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