Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Momentum for Electoral Reform Grows as Andy Burnham Backs Proportional Representation.

with 4 comments

Andy Burnham says Labour must ‘seize moment’ and back proportional representation.

Labour should back proportional representation for Westminster elections to allow more cooperation between political parties on a programme of urgently needed social reform, says Andy Burnham.

Writing for the Observer in the aftermath of two byelection defeats for the Tories, brought about in part by tactical voting by Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, the mayor of Greater Manchester says PR should be at the heart of an entirely new approach to politics and policymaking.”

A key body pushing for this is the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform.

Chartist Magazine has been one of the forums on the left which had promoted electoral reform:

In the UK PR has been the only system, through the European elections, which has given a big voice to the national populist far-right. Notably, UKIP 2014, (27.5%) of any British party, 24 MEPs, Brexit Party, 2019, (30.52%) 29 seats.

Although this Blog is in principle in favour of PR (see articles above) it is also hard not to recall that Jean-Marie Le Pen gained his first foothold in French national politics when François Mitterrand introduced a proportional voting system, the “party list” method, for the French legislative elections in 1986.

The intention, as the far right Front National (FN) led by Le Pen was bubbling support out in the country, and some tentative alliances with the classical right were in the air, was to divide the Socialist Party President’s opponents. Despite some who warmed to the FN anti-immigration theme, the Gaullists (Rassemblement pour la République RPR) and centre-Right (Union pour la démocratie française, UDF) had many reasons to be wary of the FN not least those who recalled Le Pen’s own fight for Algérie Française against the General. The measure, equally transparently, was intended to shore up left support, easier to express nationally than through constituency battles.

In elections  the RPR/UDF coalition obtained 43,9 % and were the largest group. Consequently, for the first time of the history of the Fifth Republic, the parliamentary majority was opposed to the President. Thus began a period of “cohabitation”, between the Right, led by PM Jacques Chirac, and Mitterrand, a division of power which the founder, in 1959, of the constitutional framework Charles de Gaulle, did not foresee. (La cohabitation de 1986-1988, une première sous la Ve République.)

The FN was able to form a parliamentary group with its 35 elected members (9,65% of the vote). It marked their entry onto the national political scene, and helped give them, a previously fringe movement with origins in ‘national revolutionary’ tendencies, legitimacy.

PR for Parliamentary elections was abolished by Prime Minister Chirac. Reelected in 1988 Mitterrand did not re-introduce the system for the legislative elections held in the same year.

Nevertheless, “Since their creation in 1986, France’s regional councils were first elected according to a proportional system (used three times between 1986 and 1998) and then, since 2003, through a mixed system which combines proportional distribution and majority bonus in a two-round ballot.

This “tailor-made” election method, which is different than what is used for the National Assembly and departmental councils (two-round binominal system), as well as the European Parliament (single-round proportional election) is similar to that which is used by town councils of cities over 1,000 inhabitants where the majority bonus is greater (50%).”

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Watched Galloways MOATS show for the first time in a while. When not begging for money he commented on the rail strike. Quote from the show :
    “Mick Lynch is so good on television interviews some people have asked me if I have been teaching him”
    GG’s narcissism knows no bounds.


    June 26, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    • That is brilliant Ian!

      As they say, you could not make it up.

      Andrew Coates

      June 26, 2022 at 8:41 pm

  2. Interesting point: if the recent French Parliamentary election had been held under Proportional Representation:

    “A proportional Assembly election, similar to those existing in many European countries, would have given roughly 148 elected members to the(Left) NUPES as well as to Ensemble, Macron’s alliance. The RN (far right) for its part would have obtained 108 elected, and the LR (Classic right) the Republicans 78 seats. The single-member majority system therefore still greatly benefits Ensemble which, with its 245 elected members, was able to cushion the disavowal suffered by its candidates.”


    Andrew Coates

    June 26, 2022 at 10:02 pm

  3. I’m also in favour of PR on basic democratic grounds, but the experience of the last decade surely shows that it could just as easily lead to another Tory-Lib Dem coalition as one of the centre to centre left parties.

    Matthew Thompson

    June 27, 2022 at 6:44 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: