Majority Governments Have Not Solved Major Policy Problems



Notes On the Election
London Review of Books
Page numbers: 


The author, in reflecting on the 2015 UK election outcome which saw the Conservative Government unexpectedly retain office with a clear majority, argues the result highlights the inadequacies of majority government vis-a-vis minority government.

Specifically, he points out that the UK and US both have ‘first-past-the-post' electoral systems designed to give voters a clear choice between the major parties, and that majority governments are more likely to result from this system.

Yet, while this provides political certainty, both majority-based systems have presided over a major increase in socio-economic inequality as well as a massive increase in surveillance over citizens.

He argues that this is because majority governments lack sufficient checks and balances and requirements needed to successfully negotiate policy outcomes with minor parties, and to make them adequately resist the agendas of money politics and other special interests.

It also makes major parties more prone to represent their own rather than citizens' interests.

'The presence in government of multiple parties representing multiple interests helps to give democracy a measure of defense against the whirlwind of money that swirls around it. It makes it harder to sell out, because it makes it harder to do anything reckless', he says.

He concludes that the UK urgently needs electoral reform to make its voting system not only fairer, but its political and policy system more accountable.


Thumbnail image: UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Source: Number 10/Flickr 

David Runciman

Cambridge University

USAUnited Kingdom
Published Date
May 8, 2015