This morning I received not one, but two separate mailshots from the Conservatives, both telling me how bad it would be if we ended up with a hung parliament with no one party  in ‘power’. They went on to suggest that if indeed we did end up with a hung parliament then we wouldn’t end up with a government that we had elected, but one formed through ‘behind closed door meetings’ and ‘secret negotiations’. They also suggested that politicians being made to work with, heaven forbid, people with different political viewpoints would mean that the government would be paralysed and the country would go to hell in a hand-basket.

Leaving aside the suggestion that perhaps if politicians of varying parties can’t actually work together for the good of the nation they shouldn’t be politicians, lets take a look at just how democratic recent elections have been.

Year Winner % Vote Seats 2nd/3rd Place 2nd/3rd Combined
% Vote
2nd/3rd Combined
Seats
2005 Lab 35.3% 356 Con/LD 54.4% 260
2001 Lab 41.4% 323 Con/LD 54.6% 205
1997 Lab 43.5% 328 Con/LD 51.5% 199
1992 Con 45.4 319 Lab/LD 53% 205
1987 Con 46.2% 358 Lab/(Lib+SDP Alliance) 53.3% 165
1983 Con 45.9% 362 Lab/(Lib+SDP Alliance) 53.2% 161

For the past 27 years, the party claiming to have a ‘majority’ and ‘mandate to govern’ has actually represented less than 50% of the electorate. Looked at a different way, for the past 27 years more than 50% of the electorate actively voted for someone other than the party that got elected with a majority.

From the figures above, it seems to me that a hung parliament would force parties representing more than 50% of the electorate to work together to form a government representing the majority of people.  Surely that is a far more ‘democratic’ outcome than allowing a single party representing less than 50% of the electorate to have an absolute majority in government? How can any party which polls less than 50% of the electorate claim to have a majority mandate – the maths, and the first past the post system, just does not add up.