The Constitution Unit


Electoral Systems in the UK

Though we often think of the electoral system in the UK as entirely unchanging, this is in fact far from true. Whereas in 1995, when the Constitution Unit was founded, only voters in Northern Ireland faced any electoral system other than first past the post, today, voters in Northern Ireland are unique in the UK in having to cope with only one electoral system besides first past the post. And, while a move away from first past the post for Westminster elections appears very unlikely in the short term, there are factors that could change that.

Dr Alan Renwick's research on electoral systems and electoral reform debates in the UK includes:

  • The performance of the Westminster electoral system against a variety of indicators. A preliminary assessments has appeared in a blog post, and details of further analysis will be posted in due course.
  • A particular aspect of this looks at the proportionality of the electoral system, which raises important questions about what we actually mean by electoral proportionality and disproportionality. Early versions of this work-in-progress is available in a blog post.
  • Debates about electoral reform in the UK. Alan Renwick's work in this area is part of his wider project on the evolution of democracy in the UK since 1945, which is funded by the Nuffield Foundation. He has published on the the debates about electoral reform that emerged in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal in 2009 and about what international experience tells us about the likelihood of future electoral reform. Future publications will examine how electoral reform debates have changed over time in further detail.