British Elections

Britain may like to find out about more our voting system in elections. Our system gives smaller political parties a chance to be part of the government. We have MMP which is one kind of proportional representation.

If a party gets a proportion of the votes, like 10%, they are represented in Parliament by the same proportion of MPs. In this way smaller parties can be represented. Today, we have two main parties but also four smaller parties in Parliament. Two of them have a part in the government. The old system of First Past the Post (FPP) can be unfair. In 1978 and 1981 Labour got more votes but National had more seats so National was the government. Listen to November 24th 2008 and September 8th 2009 for more about MMP.

The results of the elections in Britain last week gave the Tories 36% of the vote, Labour 29% and the Liberal Democrats 23%. Other parties got 12% of the vote. There are 649 seats in the British Parliament. Tories got 306 seats, Labour 258 seats and the Liberal Democrats only 57 seats. If they had proportional representation, the number of seats would be 234 for the Tories, 188 for Labour and 149 for the Liberal Democrats. It is easy to see why the Liberal Democrats are so disappointed.

The Tories need a minimum of 326 seats so they need the Liberal Democrat seats to form a government. However, the Liberal Democrats want a promise of proportional representation in the future or at least a referendum, which is a vote by the British people.

Questions to think about

The British Tories and the Labour party do not want proportional representation. Can you guess why?
What are the difficulties with a coalition government (where two parties have to work together)?
What are the benefits?

Numbers to listen for
Listen to all the numbers – years, percentages and number of seats. Can you get them right?
(Oh dear! Half of 649 plus 1 should be 325.)


  1. Hello dear miss Syme
    I could not completely get it, please could someone tell me “how is it right now?” How they decide this certain number of seats based on percentage of votes? For what I got the kiwi system is directly proportional, isnt it? And trying to respond your questions: I think mmp is the right thing coz it provides competition n diversity n coalition is absolutely the opposite.
    One more doubt: you miss said: find out more about and it’s written: find out about more, which one should I use?
    cheers ! ! !

  2. If you get 23% of the v0ote, why not get 23% of the seats in Parliament? I’m very impressed that you are listening to posts recorded so long ago.

  3. not at all, it is always useful to read your text, I feel like learnin a lot more of interesting things than just english, cheers!

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