UK Election 2015: How the first-past-the-post system grossly distorts the actual voting pattern

The graph above (from The Economist) shows the following:

The solid circle shows the how the actual number of votes cast was split. The solid coloured blocks within the solid circle show the number of seats won (there are 650 seats in the UK House of Commons).

The empty coloured blocks show the number of seats that the party would have won had it been directly proportional to the number of votes cast.

The solid coloured blocks outside the circle show the extra seats gained due to the first-past-the-post system.

Both major parties, Labour and Conservative, have many more seats than they have as a percentage of votes cast.

It is the reverse for the smaller parties, except for the SNP (Scottish National Party). SNP is different because its votes were geographically concentrated, allowing to win extra seats.

UKIP won about as many votes (12.7%) as SNP (4.7)% and the Liberal Democrats (7.9%) together yet it has only one seat.  By contrast, SNP, with only 4.7% of the vote, has 56 seats.

Note 1: the fractions are just what I could find..not all sources agree to the third digit:  I cannot find the formal raw data (I looked for about 2 hours).

The chart below (from The Telegraph) shows the seats and how they have changed since the last election:


Note 2: The top chart from The Economist is available for several previous elections (it is an interactive display)

  • andycanuck

    And the Left supports variations on rep by pop because they figure leftist fringe parties like the Greens will hold the balance of power in minority governments without thinking that one day it might be the BNP in that position.

    • Frau Katze

      Fortunately, BNP did very poorly. Almost no votes.

      But I take your greater point.

      • Rosenmops

        Too bad about UKIP only getting one seat, though.

        • Frau Katze

          The degree of distortion was never made quite so clear to me until this particular election. If your small party is geographically concentrated, then you do better. If it spread out amongst the general population, it might as well not exist.

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            Please recall the BQ and Reform parties.
            PR is a losers whine.
            If we had it here we would always be ruled by a left coalition.

          • DD_Austin

            An unelected left coalition, those percent representatives
            are appointed by their parties, not elected.

            Stalin would approve

  • WalterBannon

    What about after you take into account all the fraudulent postal votes….

  • The Goat

    Only one UKIP seat? How depressing.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      The Reform Party got one MP twenty years ago to start the ball rolling.
      And then they got more.

  • Brett_McS

    Although it didn’t work well for UKIP, the first-past-the-post system actually worked as it should this time, delivering a simple majority government. Earlier, according to the polls, it was looking like it would result in the sort of minor party mish-mash that proportional representation produces, in which case it would have made sense to switch to that ‘fairer’ system. But now, it makes sense to stick with FPTP.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      With first past the post Mr. Smith gets to go to Washington.
      In proportional representation Mr. Smith doesn’t.

  • Minicapt

    The BBC summery, with vote numbers, is here:


  • eMan14

    It’s a shame for UKIP. But the overall numbers are promising. I really don’t foresee any solid progress on immigration reform with Cameron. Unless he develops a pair of balls.