Candidates from centre-left parties will outnumber those on the right by more than two to one in this week’s local elections in England, creating an intrinsic advantage for the Conservative Party, according to new research.
In almost half (43%) of the contested districts, the Conservatives are the only right-of-centre party against three candidates from the left of center – Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens – effectively splitting the “progressive” vote in a way this makes it easier for Boris Johnson’s party to win.
And in another third (36%) of battles, the Conservatives are the only “conservative” representative fighting candidates from two “progressive” parties. Of nearly 3,000 council seats up for grabs, only 15 (0.5%) will see more conservative parties than progressives on the ballot.
The research, carried out by the Politics for the Many labor campaign, emerged a day after Tory Chairman Oliver Dowden accused Labor and the Liberal Democrats of engaging in a secret pact – denied by Sir Keir Starmer and Ed Davey — to help each other on Thursday. elections.
Citing statistics suggesting Labor was fielding fewer candidates than usual in the South West of England and the Lib Dems fewer in the North East, Mr Dowden claimed the parties were conspiring to ‘deny voters an appropriate democratic choice”.
Politics for the Many said its analysis, using data collated by Democracy Club, showed that England’s winner-takes-all voting system means left-leaning voters are in fact being punished for having the choice of parties for whom to vote, while right-wing voters see their chances of success increase because there are fewer candidates to choose from.
Campaign co-ordinator Nancy Platts said that meant many voters on the left of the political spectrum had to “stop their noses” and vote for a party they did not support in order to pursue the priority of preventing a victory for the Conservatives.
“We’ve seen too often how our electoral system stands in the way of progressive change, amplifying the votes of some while throwing others to the scrap heap,” Ms Platts said. “The result – a winner-takes-all system that delivers unearned majorities to the government of the day…governments that are too often conservative.
“It’s a system that forces voters to vote tactically, often backing the ‘least worst’ candidate in an attempt to outsmart the broken system. In these local elections, the odds are again stacked against progressives, and the results will likely reflect that in seats across the country.
“Labour must take electoral reform seriously to overcome the structural advantage our electoral system gives the Conservatives. Only then will progressive views have a fair chance of getting to the polls.
Analysis of the campaign found that, in the 2,859 contested wards, there were on average 2.2 Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green candidates for every Conservative, UK Reform or Ukip candidate.
Some 43.3% of neighborhoods will see one right-wing party against three left-wingers, while 35.5% will see one right-winger against two left-wingers. In 2.4% of additional neighborhoods, two center-right parties will face three “progressives”.
No neighborhoods were found in which the three right-wing parties of the center ran, and only 15 will be contested by more right-wing than left-wing parties. In only 16.1% of the neighborhoods there was an equal number of parties on each side.
Proportional voting systems, such as those used in Scottish and Northern Irish local elections and parliamentary elections in Scotland and Wales, allow voters to number candidates in order of preference, thus eliminating the problem of “votes shared”.
Most council ballots in England use a first-past-the-post system, while in some areas residents have up to three votes but no way to rank candidates by preference. Major parties in these regions tend to field three candidates in hopes of winning all three Xs.
Boris Johnson’s triumph in the 2019 general election was greatly helped by Nigel Farage’s decision to drop Brexit Party candidates to avoid splitting the centre-right vote, allowing the Tories to claim a landslide victory to “move forward Brexit” in an election that saw a majority vote for parties proposing a second referendum.