Parliamentary Constituency Boundary Reviews and Electoral Bias: How Important are Variations in Constituency Size?

Posted: 4 Jan 2010

See all articles by Galina Borisyuk

Galina Borisyuk

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ron Johnston

University of Bristol - School of Geographical Sciences

Colin Rallings

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Thrasher

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 2010

Abstract

It is frequently canvassed by some politicians and political commentators that the current British electoral system is biased against the Conservative party because of variations in constituency size: seats won by the Conservatives at recent elections have been larger than those won by Labour in terms of their registered electorates, thereby disadvantaging the former. As a consequence, it is argued that equalisation of constituency electorates by the Boundary Commissions would remove that disadvantage. The validity of this argument is addressed in two ways. First, we demonstrate that the rules and procedures applied by the Boundary Commissions when redistributing seats in the UK preclude the achievement of substantial equality in constituency electorates. Secondly, we use a recent adaptation of a widely-used procedure for establishing electoral bias in three-party systems to show that variations in constituency electorates had only a minor impact on the outcome of elections after the last two redistributions. The geography of each party's support base is much more important, so changes in the redistribution procedure are unlikely to have a substantial impact and remove the significant disadvantage currently suffered by the Conservative party.

Suggested Citation

Borisyuk, Galina and Johnston, Ron and Rallings, Colin and Thrasher, Michael, Parliamentary Constituency Boundary Reviews and Electoral Bias: How Important are Variations in Constituency Size? (January 2010). Parliamentary Affairs, Vol. 63, Issue 1, pp. 4-21, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1530157 or http://dx.doi.org/gsp016

Galina Borisyuk (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Ron Johnston

University of Bristol - School of Geographical Sciences ( email )

University Road
Bristol BS8 1SS
United Kingdom

Colin Rallings

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Michael Thrasher

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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