Voting principles

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There has been much correspondence recently on the legitimacy of different governments based on what proportion of the electorate voted and for whom they voted.

It is a long-standing principle of our democracy that voting is not compulsory and people do not have to express any preference at an election. It is, therefore, entirely wrong for anyone to add in the unexpressed voices of those who did not vote in order to seek to legitimise or deny legitimacy to a government.

The SNP gained a majority at the 2011 Scottish election with 45 per cent of the vote. In the last eight UK general elections where one party has gained a majority, the average vote for the majority party has been just 41 per cent.

The highest vote for a majority party was 44 per cent for the Conservative Party in 1979. The lowest vote for a majority party was 35 per cent for the Labour Party in 2005. In 2010, the Conservatives failed to gain a majority, something they seem to forget often, with 36 per cent of the vote. 

All the majority governments elected were deemed to be legitimate, but the current SNP government in Scotland secured the support of a greater percentage of those who voted than any UK government for at least the past 39 years.

Andrew Parrott

Stuart Avenue