Proportional Representation and outcomes

Women in politics

First Past the Post has been called "the world's worst voting system for achieving gender balance" in politics.  Just 32% of British MPs are women.

Numerous studies have found that countries with Proportional Representation produce a better gender balance. Every single country with more than 40% female MP in its primary legislature uses a proportional voting system.

gender balance in parliaments

Equal societies

Proportional Representation is not just better for democracy - it has also been found to lead to more equal societies. 

Studies have found that countries with proportional electoral systems have considerably lower income inequality than those with majoritarian systems like First Past the Post. Based on the evidence, political scientists have concluded that there is a causal relationship at work: countries with PR "tend to reduce income inequalities whereas majoritarian institutions have the opposite effect” and that when the degree of proportionality of a system increases, income inequality decreases. Analysis has found these effects to be highly significant, with PR accounting for 51% of the variance of income inequality among countries.

sharing income equality.png

Countries with PR also tend to have a more equal distribution of public goods. A 2009 study  found that PR countries garnered higher scores on the United Nations Index of Human Development, described as “a reasonable overall indicator of government performance in the delivery of public goods and human welfare."

Turnout and satisfaction with democracy

It is well established that Proportional Representation leads to increased voter turnout - for reasons that are obvious considering that most votes under First Past the Post are wasted. Several studies found the average increase in turnout for an election held under PR rather than FPTP to be 5-8%. Actual global turnout statistics from 1945 and 2002 to calculate that list PR turnouts are 6% higher than FPTP, while Single Transferable Vote turnouts have been 13% higher than those in FPTP systems.

sharing turnout.png

Academics have also found that countries with Proportional Representation have:

  • Government policies that are closer to the view of the median voter.
  • Citizens who are more satisfied with the performance of their countries’ democratic institutions, even when the party they voted for was not in power.
  • Higher performance on measures of political participation and civil liberties.