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Electoral Reform in Scotland

July 2004

Scotland is one of the newest countries to use a full representation electoral system.  Over the past several years, there was a growing movement in Scotland to reform their electoral process in an effort to make the parliament more representative of the Scottish population.  

Additionally, the implementation of proportional representation by a single transferable vote would allow the Scottish parliament to gain more power from Westminster, and greater develop coalitions within the parliament.

After being negotiated by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scotland passed the Local Governance Act on June 23, 2004. It introduced proportional representation for Scottish local government for 2007 elections, using 3-4 member wards.  The measure passed 96/18 with 2 abstentions.  

Officials hope the the adoption of proportional representation will offer a real balance of local opinion, and prevent party domination that has existed in previous years.  Also, the use of proportional representation will allow for more constructive compromise and consensus building between political parties. 

Links to organizations that promote proportional representation in Scotland:

Fairshare, Scotland's Campaign for Local Democracy is a cross-party organization campaigning for the introduction of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system of proportional representation for Scottish local elections.

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS), campaigns for improvements in democracy throughout the United Kingdom, specifically the implementation of proportional representation by a single transferable vote, or PR-STV.

View a copy of the Local Governance Act.

News coverage of Scotland's adoption of proportional representation:

The Scotsman: Birth of a Grassroots Transformation.  An analysis of how the adoption of choice voting in Scotland will impact the political landscape.  June 26, 2004.

The Scotsman: PR Voting Will Loosen Labour Hold on Local Authorities  Scotland's decision to adopt choice voting by an overwhelming majority may alter the political balance within the Parliament.  June 24, 2004.

The Glasgow Evening Times: Go-Ahead for new Election System. Brian Currie discusses Scotland's likelihood to adopt a proportional representation system.  June 23, 2004.

The Herald: Voters Support Election Reforms.  In a survey by Fairshare, ordinary electors were found to support a change to a electoral system of single transferable vote.  June 22, 2004.

The Scotsman: How we Scots vote should be up to us. Margo MacDonald argues that the Scottish parliament (rather than Westminster) should decide on what the voting system should be. The piece also gives an overview of where the different parties stand on the issue of electoral reform. February 11, 2004.


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