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Fair votes or firm government? Do we have to choose?

A guide to books, journals and websites relevant to electoral systems and change in the UK. This guide has been written to provide background information and sources for the Speakers' Corner Trust's Forum for Debate, titled 'Fair Votes or Firm Government: Do We Have to Choose?'. 

Forum for Debate

The British Library is providing background information and sources for further reading about each topic featured in Speakers’ Corner Trust’s Forum for Debate.

The focus of each bibliography will be on recent work that is accessible to someone with a general interest in the topic. All of the references in this resource guide are to materials that are either available without charge through the internet, or that may be accessed at the Library reading rooms in London.

Speakers’ Corner Trust is a registered charity which promotes free expression and public debate. The Forum for Debate series is intended to cover issues of general public interest, with invited contributions from policy workers, commentators, academics and campaigners on either side of the debate. More information can be found on the Speakers’ Corner website at:

The topic: Fair votes or firm government: do we have to choose? – April 2010  

The question of reform of the voting system has been a key theme of the UK General Election in 2010. Since 1997, voters in the UK have had experience of different voting systems through elections for the European Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly etc. 

Supporters of reform argue that the current system of electing representatives to the House of Commons does not produce results that closely match the proportions of votes cast for each party. They argue that this contributes to a feeling of powerlessness amongst some voters and can be a cause of declining turnout at elections. Opponents of reform point to the close link between Member of Parliament and constituency, and the tendency for proportional systems to return minority governments.

This bibliography covers recent debates on the merits of different systems, and analyses of voting in the UK. The bibliography also includes descriptions and comparisons of electoral systems across the world. Details of books, journals and reports held at the Library are included alongside resources which are available on the web.

PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.