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Fly me to the (blue) moon

In Politics on May 12, 2010 by datanamics Tagged: , , , , , ,

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The General Election finally delivered its much expected verdict. As feared or hoped by many, we ended up with a hung Parliament, with no political party enjoying the required majority of seats at the House of Commons. The lockout of the early days ended when the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats reached a full five year coalition deal. Amongst other agreements, LibDem leader Nick Clegg is to become the country’s ninth deputy PM. Forced to thorough negotiations to secure a stable majority, the Tories granted the Yellows with five ministerial departments.

Two-headed government : N.Clegg and D.Cameron

In what seems like a shotgun wedding for some, further issues remain to be tackled to achieve intelligent leadership. At the centre of all attentions is the electoral reform. To make a long story short, Clegg has repeatedly called for the current FPTP system to be amended. According to the Take Back Parliament campaign, the FPTP process questions the whole issue of democratic elections, for the majority will of the people may not be reflected in the electoral outcome.

My Fair MP : The Take Back Parliament Movement
The Electoral Reform Society advocates three different voting systems that would incorporate a form of proportional representation :

A geographical breakdown would clearly help us grasp the issues at stake. The data presented here has been gathered from the Guardian Datablog. What would have been the outcome of the late general elections should a more proportional system have been implemented ?

Click on the image to access the interactive visualization (hosted on Tableau Public) :

We created another visualization that aims to grasp the crucial impact a voting system can have on the election outcome.

At a glance, one can notice that the Conservatives almost invariably obtain the best scores under the current FPTP system than under any other process. One can thus understand their reluctance to switch. Conversely, the LibDems would consistently increase their seats under any more proportional voting system, especially with a Single Transferable Vote (STV). The number of seats gathered by the Labour would vary by region and electoral system, yet a more proportional system would only show one way : down.

Note that this simulation assumes that votes cast on May 6th would have been ‘first preferences’. All political considerations aside, one can only acknowledge a significantly different make-up of the Parliament, had another system been implemented. Despite no region witnessing a change of majority, the LibDems would for instance see their overall representation increase dramatically.

Its most fervent supporters have long been told that a more proportional system could only happen ‘once in a blue moon’. As the spirit of coalition is in the air, could the colour of David Cameron’s tie be the much awaited sign?

FX.