Voting system

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Alasdair HM Adam (Letters, 25 August) should not be surprised if the SNP were to elect several regional MSPs in addition to electing all the constituency MSPs in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

That would be no more than their fair share, given that current opinion polls show the SNP could have 62 per cent of the votes.

The Scottish Parliament voting system is designed to deliver a broadly proportional result overall.

With 62 per cent of the votes, the SNP’s proportionate share would be 80 of the 129 seats. As there are only 73 constituency MSPs, the list part of the voting system might allocate the SNP seven regional MSPs if their support were evenly spread across Scotland.

Contrary to Mr Adam’s statement, that would indeed be proportional representation.

Mr Adam also bemoans the fate of small parties in the regional voting system, but the key word is “regional”.

The Scottish Parliament 
voting system was not designed to give representation to any party that could secure a 129th share of the votes across 
Scotland.

Instead, proportionality was confined to each electoral region, where a party would need one-17th, one-16th or one-15th of the votes in that region to be allocated an MSP.

Of course, it would be much better if we elected all of our MSPs on the same basis, all directly accountable to a constituency of local voters, and with real voter choice.

We could easily do that with the single transferable vote system of proportional representation (STV-PR), though not in time for May 2016.

However, if 62 per cent of voters vote for one party, any system of proportional representation is going to give that party around 62 per cent of the seats in the Parliament.

James Gilmour

East Parkside

Edinburgh