All the voting systems used within the UK lack proportionality. The most prominent example of this is First Past the Post (otherwise FPTP), used mainly in general elections. Constituents vote to elect one member to represent their constituency. Since parties only need to win the majority of constituencies to become the ‘majority’, parties can win on less than 50% of total votes cast; one example being the 2005 UK General Election where Tony Blair was re-elected with 35.2% of votes.  Voters may feel that the system lacks legitimacy if the most “popular” candidate/party can be elected on less than a numerical majority, and since most other voting systems used within the UK lack proportionality, we could say that they are not fit for purpose. The Single Transferrable Vote (STV) is more proportional than the other voting systems as there is a close correlation between seats gained and votes cast, however it is a rare system and is not widely used.

The voting systems in the UK can lead to coalition/minority governments. This has occurred 3 times under FPTP (in 1974, 2010, 2017), whereas STV is designed to create a power-sharing government within the Northern Irish Assembly. Coalition governments have been unstable and inefficient in the past, with a breakdown in trust occurring between parties in coalition. This would demonstrate how the voting systems in the UK are not fit for purpose since unstable governments could cause a lack of voter trust and may impact the country negatively. Despite the ability to cause coalition/minority governments, this has only occurred 3 times in Westminster since 1945, and the devolved powers are prone to conflict between parties, but it does not always occur – so the ability to form coalition/devolved powers in every instance is not necessarily bad.

The voting systems used in the UK can lead to the same parties being repeatedly elected, giving no chance for different parties to come into power. For example, Labour & Conservatives alternated in power for 75 years (between 1945-2010). After 2010, Conservatives would still hold power, but would be in a coalition (2010-2015) and later a minority government (2017-2019). This means that parties such as the Liberal Democrats or Green Party struggle to come fully into power, be it with a majority government or in a minority government. Despite this being caused by the voting systems (in particular FPTP) this does mean that extremist parties are mostly excluded from the UK political system, thus those who hold extremist views will struggle to gain any power.

I think that all the voting systems in the UK are not fit for purpose mostly due to the lack of representation, which is a prominent issue across all four systems used within the UK. The fact that elections can be (and mostly are) won on less than 50% of total votes cast demonstrates how a ‘true majority’ is difficult to be established, which segregates the number of seats gained with the number of votes cast, leading many voters to feel dissatisfied in elections.