The DUP's power is disproportionate to its support
Last night, the DUP saved Theresa May’s political life. Without their votes, her government would have fallen and we would be heading for a general election.
The party has huge power, completely disproportionate to its public support at the last election.
In 2017, the DUP received 292,000 votes and won ten seats, which they are using to prop up the Conservative government.
In the same election, the Green Parties won 525,000 votes and have just one MP – Caroline Lucas.
The Liberal Democrats received roughly eight times more votes than the DUP but got just one more seat than them.
Another party with power disproportionate to its support is the Conservative Party. In a proportional system, they would have 41 seats less than they do now while Labour would lose just one.
In fairness though, it’s not just the right-wing parties who would suffer from a fairer voting system. With proportional representation, the SNP would have just 20 seats instead of the 35 they now hold. In contrast, UKIP’s seats would rise from none to twelve.
Of course, many people might have cast their votes differently with a proportional system, free to choose their favourite party instead of voting tactically. So we can’t say for sure how Parliament would look.
What is certain though is that the DUP’s current disproportionate power is a quirk of our unusual voting system.
Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and reporter for Left Foot Forward
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