More than one in three voters say they are likely to vote tactically in December’s general election, a Make Votes Matter poll has revealed [1]. 

The figures mean that over 11 million people may engage in tactical voting if turnout on polling day is similar to the 2017 general election [2], the cross-party movement has found.

 The poll is further evidence that tactical voting and electoral pacts are a major theme in this year’s general election, as parties and voters seek to avoid losing out by splitting the vote, Make Votes Matter said.

 The planned level of tactical voting has surged dramatically, dwarfing the figure for 2017’s general election in which one in five planned to vote tactically [3].

 This behaviour is caused by a First Past the Post electoral system that means millions of votes have no impact on election results, Make Votes Matter warned. 

Voters are responding to outcomes like 2015, when the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and UKIP won a combined 1.5 per cent of seats despite receiving 24 per cent of the votes between them, the campaigners say.

 Klina Jordan, Co-Chief Executive at Make Votes Matter, said: “First Past the Post distorts the will of the British people and denies voters real choice.

“When a third of the electorate feel they can’t vote for what they believe in, how can this election possibly show what voters really want? 

“MPs need to make this the last election under First Past The Post and bring in Proportional Representation. Only then will seats match votes and everyone can vote for what they really believe in.”

Among the major developed countries, only the UK, US and Canada use First Past the Post for legislative elections. 

 Despite the bitterly divided state of politics, appetite for a change to the voting system in the UK is growing, according to Make Votes Matter.

In July the organisation brokered the first cross-party agreement to hold a citizens’ assembly to choose a new voting system for the UK. It was signed by parties across the political spectrum from the Liberal Democrats to the Brexit Party, as well as Labour, Conservative and Independent MPs [4].

ENDS

Polling data from ICM:

[1] Polling by ICM Unlimited commissioned by Make Votes Matter. Methodology: ICM Omnibus, a nationally representative omnibus survey of 2,002 adults across Great Britain between 06 November and 07 November 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The question read:

“Q1. The UK currently uses a voting system called ‘First Past the Post’ for general elections. ‘First Past the Post’ refers to a voting system in which each area is represented by the candidate / party that receives more votes than any other candidate / party. As only one candidate / party can win in each area, voters sometimes decide to vote ‘tactically’. ‘Tactical voting’ is when you vote for a candidate / party who is not your first choice because they have a better chance of stopping another candidate / party winning. How likely, if at all, are you to vote tactically in the upcoming general election on December 12?

Very likely / Fairly likely / Not very likely / Not at all likely / Don’t know

[2] 32,169,920 votes were cast in the 2017 general election. If turnout were the same in 2019 and 35% voted tactically, there would be 11,259,472 tactical votes.

[3] June 2017 polling by BMG research for the Electoral Reform Society is available at: www.bmgresearch.co.uk/bmg-research-ers-poll-three-ten-feel-informed-upcoming-general-election/

[4] The Good Systems Agreement was signed by the Brexit Party, Change UK – the Independent Group, Green Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party, as well as individual Labour, Conservative and Independent MPs. Full text and list of signatories can be found at: www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/good-systems-agreement