One in five plannng to vote tactically on 8 June

By agency reporter
June 2, 2017

One in five Britons will be 'holding their nose' and voting tactically in the general election, according to new BMG Research  polling for the Electoral Reform Society.

When asked whether they'd be voting for a candidate or party best positioned to keep out someone they disliked, 20 per cent say they will, compared to 58 per cent saying they will be voting for the candidate or party they most prefer. It compares to a figure of just nine per cent for a similar question asked in the run up to the 2015 election.

Perhaps surprisingly, the figure is broadly the same across all age groups and social backgrounds, at 18 per cent for 65-74 year olds and 19 per cent for 18-24 year olds, as well as 18 per cent for professional AB voters and 18 per cent of those in the unskilled DE demographic.

In the North East, 26 per cent of people and 25 per cent in the East Midlands, will be voting tactically, compared to just eight per cent in Scotland.

A third of all 2015 UKIP voters will be voting tactically this election – most likely for the Conservatives, given that they have the highest proportion of tactical voters, at 25 per cent.

The figure drops to just six per cent for 2015 SNP voters, suggesting their voters do see them as the 'best' party.

Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: "It is frankly astonishing that a fifth of Brits feel unable to vote for their first choice party this election. That's a huge proportion of people having to hold their nose and opt for a 'lesser evil' rather than who they actually support – and a significant and worrying rise on the last election.

"This is a situation foisted on voters by our arcane voting system – one that means people often feel forced to vote for their second or even third-choice party. First Past the Post leads people to try and second-guess how others will vote, rather than being able to simply back who they believe in.

"This whole situation turns elections into a gamble around splitting the vote and trying to predict who on the left/right is most likely to win. That isn't a democratic election – it's a lottery election.

"Under a fair and proportional voting system, people aren't forced to predict the winners or predict how others will vote when they cast their vote. A proportional system, as used in Scotland or Northern Ireland – where seats match votes – would allow citizens to rank their candidates, so that if their first choice didn't have enough support, their second choice would be counted instead.

"Rather than simply throwing people's votes away because they haven't been 'tactical' enough, it's time for a system where every vote counts. No one should feel unable to vote for their favourite party – and this should be the last election where that's the case."

* Electoral Reform Society http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

Ekklesia's General Election theme for 2017 is #Vote4CommonGood. This will be explored by writers and researchers from different perspectives and backgrounds, as well as analysis of the different party manifestos in relation to the principles and policies we have advocated for many years.

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