Direct Party and Representative Voting (DPR)

First published in 2010 |

Direct Party and Representative Voting (DPR Voting)

Help mend our democracy -
X We need to change the UK Voting system
Let's use DPR Voting - similar in many ways to FPTP. Simple, proportional, but with surprising benefits

This page introduces you to a PR voting system for the UK that is simple, fairer, better, where all MPs have a single-member constituency.

Changing the voting system is difficult because nobody likes change - until it is absolutely necessary.
But our politics is in a mess. A new voting system is part of the answer. We need a catalyst for change.
Let's keep it simple. Voters want to know that their vote will count. They want simple voting and counting.
Why DPR Voting?
DPR Voting is simple, fairer - it's proportional. In Parliamentary Party Politics, your party has a fair vote.
But in your constituency, regardless of party, you can choose the best person to be your MP.
That means a parliament with better MPs, not just party puppets.
Why not FPTP?
The claim that 'First Past the Post' (FPTP) provides strong and stable Government is just wishful thinking.
FPTP election results are erratic, unpredictable, you could say undemocratic. Our electoral system encourages aggressive, adversarial politics. Reporting of debate and argument has been replaced by sound bite. Choices are presented as simple and binary.
Our country is fiercely divided, and we don't have the political culture of trying to find cross party agreement.
We need a better voting system - DPR voting is the answer.
Evolution, not revolution - Single member constituencies, Simple voting and counting, Fair PR, Every vote counts


Changing the voting system is central to UK electoral and political reform.
We need a better balance - the government, political parties, the elected members, and the people.
We can have a better voting system than First Past the Post.
In a Referendum, your vote counts. It's simple. Who won? You just count the votes.
It should be simple in a General Election but
FPTP is not simple. It doesn't work like that.
To make your vote count in a General Election, we need a Proportional Voting system (PR).
Single Member Constituencies?
With DPR Voting you get a PR system with Single Member Constituencies
DPR VOTING shows you how
DPR Voting is a PR voting system that retains some features of FPTP and addresses the drawbacks of AMS/MMP and STV
As a result, most of the arguments against electoral reform are disarmed
With DPR Voting you have two ballot papers, two

One vote - for the Candidate - the person you want to be your local MP, on your first ballot paper.
You elect your MP to represent your constituency, regardless of party affiliation.
If the MP has a party affiliation, he/she will become a member of that party's Parliamentary Party.

One vote - for the Parliamentary Party you support on the other ballot paper. The Parliamentary Party is the group of the party's members elected to parliament.
This is not a vote for a candidate or a party list of candidates.

This second vote determines how many votes each Parliamentary Party will have in parliament.
That is, it determines how many votes, collectively, each party group of elected MPs will have in parliament.

The result?

One MP in each constituency - for local, personal, accountable politics.
Simple and quick voting and counting that everyone can understand - for transparency and clarity.
Party Proportional voting - for a fairer balance in politics.
Every vote in every constituency counts - for everybody to re-engage with politics

A short explanation of DPR Voting - web page or two page pdf

The Democratic idea
In the polling booth
Two ballot papers, one vote to elect a Member of Parliament, and a separate ballot paper to vote for the party.
The first ballot paper elects a single MP in each constituency (by simple majority).
The second ballot paper vote totals are counted nationwide, like a referendum. It is the nationwide total of ‘party’ votes cast that alone determines how many votes each parliamentary party has in the parliament.
In Parliament
Each party shares its parliamentary votes out equally amongst its own MPs (so each MP exercises one share of their party’s total vote in parliamentary divisions, and has a vote equal to every other of their party's MPs.)

The concept of sharing out the parliamentary party's vote:
Instead of a vote, think cake.
With FPTP, each constituency MP gets an identical cupcake in the parliament, regardless of how many votes they or their opponents got in their constituency election. The number of cupcakes each party gets to use in the parliament is not proportionate to the number of votes cast for their candidates.
In DPR Voting each parliamentary party will have a different size cake to share out. The size of each party's cake depends on the number of the party votes they get, not on the number of constituencies won - it's proportionate to their total vote. Each MP is given an equal slice of their party’s cake - a fair share for each party, and a fair share for each MP.

MPs use their cake/vote in parliament as they see fit (they can vote along party lines, or not, as with FPTP)

from Arend Lijphart, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California, San Diego ( Nov 2011)

Thank you for bringing the DPR Voting system to my attention.  I had not heard of it before. I agree with you that it represents a big improvement compared with the current FPTP system in the UK, because it is basically a PR instead of a majoritarian system.  My own preference is for straightforward list PR, but the practical advantage of DPR Voting may be that it may be more acceptable to the British public.
Good luck with your proposal! Arend.

DPR Voting is an alternative to 'First past the post' (FPTP) for UK General Elections
Advantages: Compared with FPTP and other PR systems

Proportional representation (PR)
- but with minimal change to the voting system.
One MP in each constituency
- for local political campaigning and accountability
Constituencies unchanged - for continuity, and local involvement
Little change to voting admin
- the change would be low cost, and easy
Simple, quick voting and counting
- for democratic inclusiveness and transparency
No ‘marginal’ constituencies
- every vote in every constituency matters
No ‘safe’ seats
- MPs are not elected on their party's popularity
Every vote makes a difference
- it gives you every reason to vote
Fair to both large and small parties
- the system does not favour any party
Boundary revisions
- frequent boundary revision is not necessary
Small parties
- no proliferation of unviably small parties
Independent candidates
- have a fair chance.
This simple change would make our electoral system so much better, fairer, democratic.
Help make the change!
from a different angle, see video made in Canada
Single member constituencies
All MPs are elected in single member constituencies - there are no 'Party List' MPs .
DPR Voting is especially suitable to replace FPTP because much of the election process is unchanged.

Simple proportional representation

The number of votes each parliamentary party has in the parliament is proportional to the party votes they win in the General Election. It is a 'Single Member Constituency, Party Proportional' electoral system
Voting is simple. Counting is simple, quick, and transparent.

Practical Electoral Reform

It requires little change to the familiar First Past the Post (FPTP) system.
No change is needed to the number of MPs, or to constituency boundaries.
Introducing DPR Voting would make voting reform in the UK relatively easy and cheap.


You have two ballot papers – one to elect your MP, one for the party you support.
You have the freedom to choose the best candidate to be your MP, regardless of party.
You have the freedom to choose the best party to govern, regardless of the local candidate.

Your vote for the candidate you want to be your MP is not counted as a vote for any of the parties.
Your vote for the party of your choice is not counted as a vote for any of the candidates.

Power shifts away from the party, towards the MP, and to the electorate.
This encourages independent minded MPs and independent MPs.


DPR Voting is a PR system that retains some features of FPTP and addresses the disadvantages of AMS/MMP and STV.
As a result, most of the arguments against electoral reform are neutralised.

See DPR Voting on Youtube - video made in Canada

DPR Voting - a short description (2 page pdf) or the short description as a web page
It's simple - Proportional Representation but with all MPs elected in single member constituencies, with simple voting, and simple and quick counting.


How does it work?

There is nothing complicated about voting in a DPR Voting election.

Voters cast two votes – one to elect their constituency MP - the 'Representative' vote, and the other for the political party of their choice - the 'Party' vote.
Each vote is a single choice - the voter marks their choice with a single X.

One MP is elected in each constituency on the simple basis that the candidate who gets the most votes is elected as the constituency MP.

As a result the voting (and counting) in DPR Voting is as simple as FPTP. It's different because each voter has one vote for the party to form the Government, and another vote for the candidate to be the local MP. This form of voting is more straightforward for those who know which party they support, and gives more options for those for which the relative merits of the candidates are important.

The 'Party' votes are totalled nationwide. Their share of the party votes entitles each parliamentary party to a fair (PR) number of votes in the parliament. That is straightforward and is the basis of other PR systems. It determines which party, or parties, can form the Government.
In order for MPs to vote in the House of Commons the votes of each parliamentary party are simply shared out equally between its members (its MPs).
Isn’t that fairly simple? And logical.

The system combines the focus on electing a local representative which is the basis of 'First past the Post' with a vote for the party which is fundamental to Proportional Representation electoral systems.

Sharing the parliamentary party votes equally

The number of votes each party has in the parliament depends on the party votes cast in the election.This will probably be different to the number of MPs elected to the parliamentary party. For votes in Parliament, each MP has an equal share of their total parliamentary party's vote. So when voting as a member of the parliamentary party, the authority and magnitude of the vote each MP has depends on the votes cast for the Party in the election. Depending on the numbers the numerical value of the vote may be more or less than one and may be best expressed as a decimal.

Party proportionality is achieved without Party List MPs. All MPs are equal members of their Parliamentary Party, so sharing out the votes of the party between its members on an equal basis has a simple democratic logic, maybe more logic than creating extra MPs from a party list.

This does not apply for divisions on ‘non party political’ issues (free votes), where each MP votes not as a member of the parliamentary party but rather with the authority as an individual elected representative of their constituency, and has an equal vote with a magnitude value of one.

The 'Party' vote is the default case – most matters are 'party' matters - but if and only if all parties agree, a vote can be deemed a ‘non party' vote. In effect every party has a veto on this and if there is no agreement amongst the parties the vote is carried out according to the party vote method.

The numerical result of sharing out each party's votes amongst its elected MPs is the Parliamentary Vote Value (PVV). This is the term for the vote that each MP has for parliamentary votes on party political issues. It is the key to how DPR Voting balances the votes for the various parties with the number of each party's MPs elected to the House of Commons.
If the 2015 UK General Election had been held under DPR Voting Parliamentary vote values would, on a simplistic extrapolation, have been (approx) as follows.

Lib Dem

Could an MP in a small party to have an unfair or ‘disproportionate’ vote? Let’s take the extreme case where a party has one MP. That MP will be the sole representative of the party in the parliament. When there is a party political debate, he or she will be the sole voice speaking up for, representing, the party in the parliament , and that MP will also vote on behalf of the party with a vote that reflects the full weight of votes cast by the electorate for that party in the General Election. This is neither unfair or disproportionate.

In the simple extrapolation above, a single UKIP MP has a vote value of 83. Remember, that the single UKIP MP (Douglas Carswell) casts his vote in party political divisions for every person who voted UKIP in the General Election. Yes, it’s a responsibility, but in other kinds of PR election, UKIP would have had around 83 votes in the parliament.
Similarly Caroline Lucas with a vote magnitude of nearly 25 has the responsibility for voting for every person who voted Green. Under PR the Green Party would have had around 25 votes in the parliament.

What is to stop a maverick MP voting against party policy? Party discipline is the responsibility of the party. If the party is not happy with the conduct of any of its MPs it can withdraw the party whip. There are of course lesser sanctions.
In DPR Voting, withdrawing the whip from the only MP in the party is the ‘nuclear’ option. This is because, if the MP previously had a vote greater than one, the MP would effectively become an independent MP with a vote value of one. (If the whip is withdrawn from an MP with a vote value of less than one the vote value would be unchanged until the next election). An MP cannot enhance their personal vote by resigning or having the whip withdrawn.
So does DPR Voting encourage ‘Pork Barrel’ politics? The conduct of any MP depends both on the individual, and the party’s ability to conduct its affairs. The electoral system has a safeguard.

SNP MPs are over represented in the House of Commons. This is an issue with considerations beyond the voting system, and so cannot be solved by the voting system alone. However DPR Voting would give the SNP parliamentary party their proportional voting weight of around 31, compared with the 56 MPs they have under ‘First Past the Post’. The different values of the PVV simply correct the democratic imbalance that results from the 'First Past the Post' system of voting.
Because of the erratic nature of FPTP, UKIP got more than twice as many votes as the SNP but only one vote in parliament. The SNP got 56. Similarly the Green Party got almost as many votes as the SNP, but again, only one vote in the parliament.

There is a cut off point. If a party has no MPs elected but achieves a popular vote that exceeds a predetermined threshold the party would be represented in the House by reason of the 'Automatic election' provision by a single MP with a single vote. This would act as a democratic safety valve giving a new party a voice in parliament, but would be no substitute for winning constituency contests.

Note: It is not possible to predict how people will vote when a new electoral system is introduced, so that the above projections are simply to illustrate the principle, and are unlikely to be an accurate guide to what will actually happen.

For more on this see Parliamentary divisions and parliamentary vote values.

Direct Party and Representative Voting
v 1.8
DPR Voting - a short description (2 page pdf) or the short description as a web page
v 1.7.2
DPR Voting - a full description (20 page pdf) or full description as a word doc
See DPR Voting on YouTube (made in Canada)


from Arend Lijphart, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California, San Diego. ( Nov 2011)

Thank you for bringing the DPR Voting system to my attention.  I had not heard of it before.
I agree with you that it represents a big improvement compared with the current FPTP system in the UK, because it is basically a PR instead of a majoritarian system.  My own preference is for straightforward list PR, but the practical advantage of DPR Voting may be that it may be more acceptable to the British public. Good luck with your proposal! Arend.


DPR Voting is a way of introducing proportionality to the UK multi party parliamentary democracy while retaining much of the existing familiar electoral system.
It addresses some aspects of First Past the Post widely perceived as disadvantages, and avoids aspects of other proposed systems of electoral reform which attract the most criticism.

DPR voting results in a parliament of MPs all elected in the same way on personal merit by a plurality, and as such although party proportionality is achieved, the numerical strength of the parliamentary parties would not follow proportionality. It would be closer to, but not the same as, the existing FPTP system. Strong candidates regardless of there party allegiance would have a better chance of getting elected than weak candidates.

At present if a party does not put up a candidate in a particular constituency that party cannot get any votes in that constituency and the electorate have a reduced choice of which party to vote for. For this reason parties put up ‘paper candidates’ who have no expectation of winning, in order to 'maximise their vote'. With DPR Voting, a party can be represented on the ‘Party’ ballot without having a candidate standing for election in the constituency. This gives the voter more choice – they can vote for their party. They can also, but don’t have to, vote for a candidate. This reduces the incentive for parties to put up poor quality ‘paper’ candidates (who sometimes get elected!) just to ‘make up the numbers’.

The success of the system will be determined by whether, in time, the merits of electing an individual on merit, rather than party label, combined with party proportionality, strengthens democracy.
The intention is that it will enhance the sense of representation and engagement with politics at the local level, and revitalise party politics at the national level.

How difficult would it be to introduce this new voting system?

The introduction of DPR Voting to replace the existing FPTP system for election to the House of Commons would require less upheaval than the change to any other PR system.
Unchanged constituency boundaries would offer political continuity locally, and MPs previously elected under FPTP would not be forced to find a new constituency.
Keeping much of the existing electoral system would make the administrative process of changing over to the new system easier.
Voter education would be minimised because the process of voting and counting is simple, and similar and to the current system.
The cost of introducing the new system would be relatively low. It would be straightforward to reverse the change.
….there are so many different types of Proportional Representation....,
"Choose a PR system that is simple and straightforward!
Don't be too much of a PR 'perfectionist' "

Part of the advice Arend Lijphart gave to the Workshop of Electoral Systems Experts, in Berlin, (Oct 2011) that looked at PR as a replacement for FPTP in India. Arend Lijphart is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California, San Diego.

. .

Why is DPR Voting a different, fairer and better alternative?

  It's simple - a form of Proportional Representation but with all MPs elected in single member constituencies, with simple voting, and simple and quick counting.
A DPR Voting Election will tend to elect more MPs able to win their constituency election on their own merits rather than on the back of a party label.
The overall calibre of MPs in the Parliament increases. Their democratic credentials are strengthened.
  When considering a straightforward PR replacement for FPTP, DPR Voting involves less change to the election process, offers more advantages and fewer disadvantages than any other PR system.
  In DPR Voting, every voter makes a difference to the election result.

DPR Voting - the electoral system to replace First Past the Post
The introduction of DPR Voting would involve only a small change to the current UK electoral system. It would preserve the relationship between MPs and their constituents on the basis of a method of constituency election which is familiar.
DPR Voting would achieve greater equality for the voter, greater voter choice, and a simple form of proportional representation at minimum cost and with minimum disruption. It could reasonably be presented to the electorate as a fairer electoral system for Westminster.

If you would like to comment about DPR Voting, please email the editor
The special case of the convention concerning the Election of the Speaker
It is the convention that the Speaker is returned unopposed. Under FPTP this means the Speaker's constituents are, in effect, disenfranchised.
Under DPR Voting, voters in the Speaker's constituency can still cast a party vote, even if the Speaker is unopposed.
Not only vote for the party you want to form the Government.
But also vote for the person you want to be your MP.

DPR Voting - simple, practical electoral reform

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