Voters would prefer to have the pick of all the parties on their ballot papers rather than see them step aside for each other on Brexit lines, a poll for the Electoral Reform Society shows.
The survey by BMG Research found that 41 percent of voters believe “all political parties should stand in all areas …even if this means there might be a lower chance of electing an MP who shares my view on Brexit.”
Meanwhile, only 28 percent say parties should form deals to stand aside for each other, increasing the chance of one Brexit side triumphing over the other. Just under a third (31%) of all voters say they don’t know.
The results come amid growing talk of Brexit pacts following the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, which saw Greens and Plaid Cymru step aside – increasing the chances of the eventual Lib Dem winner. There have also been calls for a pact between the Brexit Party and Conservatives at the next election.
The ERS say the results show voters rightly want choice in elections – but risk being silenced by a winner-takes-all electoral system.
The findings come ahead of the ERS’ 2019 Election Audit, which finds voters wanting to vote for a wide range of parties at local and national level. The report is being released on Thursday (22nd August).
Willie Sullivan, senior director of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
“Voters don’t appear to be wild about the idea of Brexit pacts. We’re seeing a crystallisation of a bizarre demand: parties – which exist to contest elections – being urged to stand aside to avoid ‘splitting the vote’. This kind of anti-choice stitch up doesn’t really provide a solution to our fragmented politics. Instead they show up Westminster’s voting system for the undemocratic affair it is. Voters don’t just want a Leave vs Remain party, or Left vs Right: they want real choice and to be fairly represented.
“To force parties, as well as voters, into just two camps is an artificial attempt to restore our multi-party system into an outdated two-party structure. From back-room deals to minority government, first-past-the-post has now adopted all of its own criticisms against proportional representation for itself – but without any element of fair representation or voter choice.
“Let’s do something radical and take this back to first principles: People should always be able to vote for the candidates that reflect their views. It’s time to scrap this reverse arms race of parties being urged to stand aside – and instead back a fair electoral system, where choice is valued and citizens’ voices are actually heard.”