Letter: A call for fair representation

Published May 10th 2007 in The Guardian
If the Scottish parliament had not been elected with a broadly proportional system, Labour would have won a majority with less than a third of the votes. Similarly in Wales, without a proportional system, Labour would have had a clear lead in seats with no more than a third of the votes. Such results would have been an affront to democracy, yet Simon Jenkins (Nice but hopeless, the Lib Dems should call it a day, May 9) objects to the notion that "a share of votes should be reflected in a share of power".

Rather than a small number of people getting all they want, coalitions and other forms of inter-party agreements make it possible for a much larger group of electors to get most of what they want.

Coalition-building is about seeking a majority to enable an administration to conduct its business, but it is not just about numbers in the parliament and assembly - it requires shared policies and political agreements. As we can see in Scotland, that is not always easy, but it is better that we require politicians to seek areas of consensus than revert to electoral systems that hand all the power to minority groups.

Dr Ken Ritchie
Chief executive, Electoral Reform Society