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Thursday's Skewed Election Result Shows We Need to #MakeSeatsMatchVotes

10/05/2015 23:25 | Updated 10 May 2016

It's already a cliché, but Thursday's election was a shock result. There was one thing we knew well before polling day, though - this would be an incredibly unfair election.

And it was borne out by the numbers. The Greens and Ukip received five million votes, but won just two seats. In contrast, 1.3million votes for the SNP left it with a record-breaking 56 MPs. That works out as 26,000 votes per seat, compared to 3.9m for Ukip and 1.2m for the Greens.

It's hard to look at those numbers and think we have a well-functioning 21st Century democracy. But it's not just the smaller parties.

Take the main result of the election. The Conservatives won around 36% of the vote - yet were delivered 51% of seats - a majority government. It's an artificial outcome and one that drives disillusionment with politics. The other parties who secured nearly two thirds of the vote were left with fewer than half the seats in parliament.

Meanwhile, three parties sharing around a quarter of the public's support (the Lib Dems, Greens, Ukip) only got 2% of the seats. Whatever you think of those parties, that's a lot of marginalised and ignored voters - and it's not healthy for our democracy. Hundreds of seats were won on less than 50% of the vote.

At the same time, half the voters in Scotland put their cross next to parties other than the SNP, but the SNP took virtually all the seats, leaving a lot of Scottish voters unrepresented. It's not unreasonable to suggest our voting system is contributing to divisions within the UK - whether that's side-lined Labour voters in the South of England or disgruntled Tories north of the border.

And we already know the public aren't best pleased. Over 80,000 people have signed our petition calling for electoral reform in just 24 hours. We've had hundreds of new members over the past week - and the numbers keep going up. And we've had thousands of new likes, thousands of retweets and an endless stream of emails, messages and donations from people seeing the need for fair votes after Thursday's result.

What is going on here? What we've seen over the past five years is how much more multi-party our politics has become. We saw it in the leadership debates - seven party leaders going head to head. It was the clearest representation of how much our politics has changed. We have seven parties operating within an out-dated two-party system. And it's not working. Gone are the days when Labour and the Conservatives could get 97% of the popular vote. They're lucky to scrape two thirds these days.

It leads to the effective disenfranchisement of millions of people. The ERS predicted the results of 368 seats weeks before the election. Even with the shock outcome, we called just five wrong. In these 'safe seats', the public knew who their MP would be well before polling day - the same party gets elected time after time because under our system only one party can win there. The more deeply entrenched the party machine becomes, the less other parties see the need to campaign there - they simply can't win. That means 26million voters were effectively ignored on 7 May - 57% of the electorate.

Our voting system forces people to opt for parties they don't actually support. A big story of this election was that one in 10 voted for a 'lesser evil' - simply to stop someone they liked even less getting in. When people don't feel like they can vote for who they believe in, you have to question the voting system. In a democracy, phrases like 'Vote UKIP, get Labour' or 'Vote Green, Get Tory' really shouldn't exist. Vote Party X really should mean you get Party X.

Because of this, 74% of the public now back the idea of a proportional voting system, according to polling by BMG research. It's a figure that's probably going to rise after Thursday's skewed result.

The calls for electoral reform are getting louder. Pretty soon, they'll be impossible to ignore. And if the new government wants a 'one nation' Britain, the system can't go on ignoring millions of voters' wishes. Our politics has changed - it's time for our voting system to catch up.