Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Electoral Maths and Legitimacy

Time to push the numbers around:

Total seats in Parliament, 650
less non participating:      6 (5 Sinn Fein & the Speaker)
Participating Seats        644
Votes required for an effective majority = 644/2 : 322+1

Conservatives Seats announced 305 (BBC 306 figure includes Speaker)
plus expected to win in         1 Thirsk by-election
Subtotal                      306
plus Ulster Cons & Unionists    0 - that was a great idea!
plus DUP                        8 - here's to the pork barrel
Total poss. Conservative Camp 314 - 19 Short

Possible Opposition
Labour                        258
Liberal                        57
SDLP                            3
Alliance party of NI            1
Sub total                     319 (representing 52% of the vote)
                                  - 4 short of a majority
Scottish Nationalists 6
Plaid Cyrmu           3
Total Nationalist               9
Green                           1
Maximum Total non-Tory camp   329

(Check 329+314=643 – this compares to 644 effective votes: the difference is an Independent (anti-Tory link) Unionist who I have not allocated to either Camp)

So clearly:

  • Conservative 306, trumps Labour 258, but …
  • Labour/Liberal (and associates)  319, trumps Conservative 306, even
  • Labour/Liberal (and associates)  319, trumps Conservative + DUP 314

It comes down to how you measure legitimacy.

Does “winning” with 36% of the vote give you a “better legitimacy” than second and third place with a combined 52% of the vote?

Or does a coalition representing 52% of the popular vote have more legitimacy than any other combination?

How much weight to you give to someone who has come first?  If you argue that 36% in a predominantly three way fight is OK, is 27% legitimate in a predominantly four way fight, and 23% in a five way fight?  The Scottish Nationalist minority administration in Scotland (a predominantly four-way fight) had ~32% popular support.  Of course in Scotland the 68% non-nationalist element could (if they got their act together) vote out the Scottish Nationalist administration – because they have an approximately proportional voting system – so they hold power with the tacit consent of the representatives of the people.

36% of the popular vote giving you 47% of the seats just does not feel legitimate.  It could land us in the grease.

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One thought on “Electoral Maths and Legitimacy

  1. Pingback: The Aftermath II (of ?) « Outside the marginals

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