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Exeter women's party wants elections to change

Proportional representation gets their vote

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A group of Exeter women have called for the way general elections are run to change.

The Exeter branch of the Women’s Equality Party protested outside the city's Guildhall to call for a switch in the voting system to proportional representation, in which parties win seats in the House of Commons in proportion to the share of the national vote rather than on a constituency-by-constituency basis.

The Exeter group is part of Make Votes Matter, a national, cross-party campaign working to ditch the current first past the post system, whereby the party that gets one more seat than all the other parties, selected on a local level by an average of about 75,000 voters per area, gets to form a government. 

The county voted to keep that system in a referendum in 2011 when the Conservatives led a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Local supporter and Exeter co-branch leader Kate Fox said: “The first-past-the-post system has been proven globally to exclude women and minorities. It also encourages progressives to fight each other. It is a system that demands huge resources and is unnecessarily expensive, issues that become even more acute for smaller parties in a snap election. For all of these reasons, the Women’s Equality Party advocates for a fairer proportional system and hopes this day of action can showcase public belief in the need for long overdue electoral reform.”
Emma Knaggs, grassroots leader at Make Votes Matter, said: “Our first past the post voting system means parliament does not reflect how the UK voted. The government has a landslide majority of seats, but this is despite the Conservatives receiving less than 44 per cent of the votes.

“We need to change to a system of Proportional Representation so votes count equally, and so governments represent the diversity of people and views in our communities and society. It’s absolutely critical to people’s participation and faith in democracy.

The Conservatives currently have a majority of 80 members of parliament and a busy policy programme it wishes to enact before the next general election. A switch to proportional representation was not in its manifesto and has no hope of being considered. The Labour Party made its own switch to the system in July for electing its own national executive committee. The Lib Dems and Greens also use it for their internal elections.

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