Elections 2019: What Sheffield Council would look like with proportional a representation voting system

The makeup of councillors would look very different if Sheffield Council adopted a proportional voting system.

By George Torr
Tuesday, 30 April, 2019, 15:09
Councillors in the town hall. Picture: George Torr

Proportional representation is an electoral system in which the distribution of seats corresponds closely with the proportion of the total votes cast for each party.

For example, if a party gained 40 per of the total votes, a perfectly proportional system would allow them to gain 40 per of the seats.  

Sheffield Council, just like in the general election, uses a first past the post system. The candidate who gets the most votes wins. 

Some say it's the clearest and easiest to understand when electing candidates. 

Opponents of this system say it favours big parties and usually more than 50 per cent of votes are seen as wasted. 

Taken from the 2018 election results, dividing the votes for each party against the total number of votes would turn out a very different number of councillors. 

This in turn is multiplied by three as only one of three councillors were up for re-election in 2018. 

Just to clarify, this is a rough idea of what could happen taken from the formula above. 

Labour are the biggest losers in this hypothetical change. They  would concede a massive 19 seats if Sheffield Council elections were run under a proportional representative voting system. 

Julie Dore’s group would still be the largest group in the chamber with 34 but would have to form a coalition with either the Lib Dems, Greens or even the Conservatives to get over the magic number of 43. 

The big winners would be the Tories. An upcoming election would see them return 12 councillors – not bad considering they haven’t had an elected member in the Town Hall since 2008. 

The Green party also benefit greatly adding another nine councillors to their six already in the chamber. 

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UKIP in previous elections would’ve done quite well – no doubt increasing their electoral high of four councillors. But on 2018’s vote share, they would fail to return a councillor. 

 

Labour - 34 (-19)

Lib Dem - 20 (-1)

Green – 15 (+9)

Conservative – 12 (+12)

Ukip – 3 (0-)

 

Campaign group It’s Our City are calling on changes in how decisions are made in the Town Hall. 

They want Sheffield Council to abolish the ‘strong leader’ model.

They say that the current ‘strong leader’ model effectively means only nine out of the 84 councillors in Sheffield have any real power with decisions taken in cabinet and then rubber stamped by full council.

They would replace this with a committee system which would see less concentration of power in a small team of cabinet members, giving more representatives and electors a voice in the democratic process.