Tactical voting and election pacts

by Arnaud Jaegers (via Unsplash)

by Emily Withers

In the upcoming December 12th election, it is clear to see that a major factor affecting voters is the existence of  electoral pacts. In Wales, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party will not stand against each other in 11 seats. The number of pro-Remain alliance seats across the whole of the UK is 60.

Unite to Remain say that they want to avoid splitting the remain vote, so will put the future of the UK before party rivalries. But will this work?

Remain: anti-Brexit campaigners are using tactics in an attempt to ‘tip the balance’. Source: Jannes Van den wouwer (via Unsplash)

Though electoral pacts are not common in British politics, they are certainly not new. The first Labour government entered parliament in 1906 after a pact with the Liberals. Over the years, several alliances have been seen to be effective in electing particular candidates and parties. For example, an alliance in Batley and Spen after the murder of Jo Cox succeeded in re-electing a Labour candidate for the constituency.

Heidi Allen, who chairs Unite to Remain, said that at the next election: “the single most important thing is that we return as many pro-Remain MPs as possible”. This, she explained, was an opportunity to “tip the balance of power”.

It is not only the Remain camp that have some sort of electoral alliance. Though the prospect of a deal with the Brexit Party was turned down by Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage has this week announced that his party will not contest seats won by the conservatives in the 2017 general election. This deal, dubbed “unilateral” by Farage, will endeavour to unseat Labour MPs and provide one pro-Brexit candidate on the ballot paper. However, voters are not this simple. People cannot be herded to Remain and Leave camps. There are more complex party-allegiances in place, and longstanding beliefs that will not be changed due to the existence of a pact.


“There is still a chance for a high student turnout”


For young people, particularly 18-21-year-olds that were too young to vote in the 2016 referendum, this vote stands out as a chance to make your voice heard. Despite the December 12th date, by which time many university students will have returned to their family home for Christmas, there is still a chance for a high student turnout. The option of
postal voting and for many a choice between two constituencies, means that young people have a chance to shape the vote.

For many, the question of tactical voting is unethical. You should just vote for who you believe in, in the constituency where you live. However, there is an argument that tactical voting can be positive and can allow individuals to make their vote more worthwhile. For example, voting in a marginal seat could be more beneficial than voting in a constituency with a large majority for one particular party.

Whatever the consensus on tactical voting, it is imperative that young people, the most underrepresented demographic in every general election, use their right to vote to get their voice heard. We must push past the noise and ask – what do I stand for? How will I use my vote to represent my views?

Whatever the outcome, the success or failure of electoral pacts will become clear in less than a month’s time, with the result if the ‘Brexit Election’.

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