The Polish election – a fabulous ad for proportional representation

Donald Tusk Photo by Platforma Obywatelska RP Wikimedia Commons

Proportional representation delivers the right kind of Donald!

“Poland won! Democracy won! We removed them from power! […] This is the end of bad times.”

Donald Tusk, 15 Oct 2023

When we put out Tomasz Oryński’s piece setting out the significance of Sunday’s vote outcome for his country, we shared his anxiety about a further swing to the far right. After all, the far right seems to have dragged many countries, parties and politicians well away from the centre ground. Witness the Ukippering of the Conservative Party here, Meloni and her fan base in Italy and the shameless policies and politics of the Republicans in the US. So it was with enormous relief and a genuine sense of joy and optimism that we saw proportional representation deliver a coalition government which truly reflects the wishes of the majority of the population: no more far right rule.

Turnout soared to levels last seen in the historic election of 1989 and, most encouragingly of all, the percentage of young people who turned out exceeded that of the over 60s. We need to see that same mobilisation of the younger vote here, too, and for a sense of the seriousness of the situation to jolt voters out of apathy.

Here in the UK, many of us (comforted by the polls, but far from complacent) are prepared to do all we can to ensure that the Conservatives do not gaslight their way into a further catastrophic term of ‘office’. The UK’s anachronistic voting system is not on our side. First past the post gave the liar Johnson a massive 80 seat majority on a minority of the total votes cast. As I write, there is still the risk of a progressive tragedy unfolding in Nadine Dorries’ seat of Mid Beds, although some polling suggests that Labour could record an historic victory.V oters will have to vote tactically to ensure that the Conservative is defeated. Nobody wants to have to game the system or to vote purely against one party, rather than for another. But that’s what first past the post forces us to do.

This poll from October 16 tells a grimmer story:

As we saw in Uxbridge, a bit of targeted scaremongering and outright falsehood can scupper the main opposition’s challenge and the split progressive vote does the rest, letting the Tory in through the middle. The image above remains a reassuring one for those keen to see change, but look at that Lib Dem vote! It could lead to the unintended and unwanted consequence…

The Political Primary organisation – the national, open-source initiative from the founders of the South Devon Primary – has identified 58 seats where the Conservative is predicted to win on less than 50 per cent (much, much less in many cases)purely because the progressive opposition vote is split. These seats (for which campaign organisation Compass coined the phrase ‘progressive tragedies’) include some of the most dangerous and destructive politicians in government or on the back benches right now: Braverman, Badenoch, Keegan, Jayawardena, Hunt, Donelan, to name but a few.

There is definitely a sense on the street that many are adopting the ‘ABC’ voting policy – Anyone But Conservative – but this is not enough without a coherent strategy, and that is what the political primary aims to deliver. I used to refer to the process as weaponised or next-level tactical voting, but what it really is is mobilised, grassroots democracy.

The electorate is often disenfranchised and disenchanted in ‘safe’, ‘stale’ seats, where voting seems pointless as the outcome is never in question. Why bother?

Adopting the primary process changes that. The message is simple… help choose the opposition ‘champion’ and then get behind them, regardless. If ever there was a time to bother, it’s now.

Once we’ve ousted this corrupt, contemptible and chaotic government, the next battle is for proportional representation so that we never have to do this again. Poland has shown us the way.

To understand the background to the Polish vote, read this!