THE BLOG

What Next for the Greens?

02/06/2015 15:46 BST | Updated 01/06/2016 10:59 BST

After a bruising Westminster election where the Greens achieved over a million votes throughout the UK, we still only managed to keep one seat, Brighton Pavilion. The obvious inherent bias in the first past the post voting system is far from resolved, but here in Scotland, the Greens are looking forward to next year's Holyrood election.

It will be of no surprise to anyone when I say that this is the most transformative time in Scottish politics - probably ever. We've been subjected to a perpetual policitical whirlwind for what seems like an eternity: the SNP gaining a majority in parliament against all the odds; the subsequent referendum on Scottish independence; Scottish Labour losing 97.6% of their seats at Westminster. And the storm shows no signs of subsiding any time soon.

There is a good chance that the Scottish Greens will do very well in next year's Holyrood elections. With over 9000 members, many of whom are active and energetic, and a much fairer voting system, there is scope for us to become bigger than the Liberal Democrats! This means we can put whatever new powers the Scottish Parliament gets to good use and hold whoever is in government to account effectively.

The Holyrood voting system differs from the Westminster system. Westminster elects 650 members from around the UK, one for each constituency. Each voter gets one vote and the winner takes all. This means that it is possible for a party to form a majority government even if it gets fewer votes than the opposition. In Holyrood, 129 people are elected in total, 73 by first past the post and 56 by proportional representation.

Constituency members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) are elected by FPTP in the same way as Westminster MPs are. List members are elected using the d'Hondt method of proportional representation. There are 8 lists in Scotland for the 8 regions, each electing 7 MSPs. My region is Mid Scotland and Fife and there are 9 constituencies here. The d'Hondt method of seat allocation follows a specific formula:

Number of second votes\1+ Number of seats already won throughout region

This means that parties which don't do so well under the unfairness of FPTP can have this corrected by the above system. For example, lets assume that the SNP win every constituency in Mid Scotland and Fife - and on top of that, they get 40% of the list vote:

40/(1+9) = 4

Under this circumstance, SNP second votes would count for one tenth of what a vote for any other party would count for. Because of this, it is unlikely that the SNP would gain a single seat here under those assumptions. For this reason, if one want to keep out either Labour, Conservative or Lib Dems, the most effective way to do so would be to vote Green since no other party except the SNP would have any constituencies. Even with 10% of the second vote, Greens would win two seats before SNP could win one:

1st seat - 10/(1+0) = 10 which is greater than 4 so Greens would win the list seat over the SNP.

2nd seat - 10/(1+1) = 5 which is also greater than 4 so Greens would win another list seat over the SNP.

This shows why a Green vote for Holyrood cannot even be argued to be a wasted vote. It is quite conceivable that the Greens will win a number of seats next year. But if our vision of a greener and fairer Scotland - and wider world-- is to be realised, now is the time to join our movement, wherever you're from.