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Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

The Single Transferable Vote

About STV
LDER campaigns for the use of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) for all public elections in the UK. Liberals and Liberal Democrats have long supported the use of STV, as combining proportional representation with maximum voter power and choice. It is used for local government elections in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland for all elections except for the UK Parliament. It has been used for all elections in the Republic of Ireland since that country's independence in 1921.

The Good Systems Agreement

The Liberal Democrats are also signatories to the Make Votes Matter Good Systems Agreement (GSA):


The GSA sets out the criteria for selecting a different voting system for UK General Elections.

For more on electoral systems go to:


STV: the principles - and implementation

The idea of STV is to choose a number of representatives in such a way that each elected candidate represents the same number of voters. Spare votes of candidates who have more than they need, and all the votes of candidates who have too few, are transferred according to the voters' preferences until we have a set of elected candidates each with the same number of votes, a runner-up with fewer votes, with all other candidates having been excluded as having too few votes.

For this to work, all that is needed is that each voter lists the candidates in order of preference. The vote counting process is such that voters can safely give their real preferences: the transfer system ensures that their vote will not be wasted, whether their first preference is for a candidate without enough other support to be elected, or for a candidate so popular that their support is not needed. And, importantly, their lower preferences cannot count against their higher ones, because the fate of their higher preferences will have already been decided before their lower preferences are taken into account.

How might STV work for the UK Parliament?

LDER exec member Denis Mollison has put together a simple scheme for proportional representation for the UK Parliament that could be implemented very quickly. The proposed constituencies are based on existing local authority boundaries, and shown on the following map.This paper presents a specific scheme for implementing STV for the UK parliament, using constituencies based on Local Authority areas, each (with a few exceptions) electing 3-6 MPs.

This scheme has the well-known advantages of STV, including:

  • It scores highly on all the main good system criteria of fair results, voter power and choice, local representation, and ease of use.

  • In particular, it avoids the problems of safe seats, wasted votes, and thus the incentives for tactical voting, which significantly affect the two alternatives, and make them vulnerable to public and media criticism.

  • Votes that would otherwise be wasted can be transferred, thus encouraging more collaboration between parties.

    Additionally, basing constituencies on local government areas has advantages of identity and clarity of responsibility for both voter and MP. Boundaries will only rarely need changing, as demographic changes can normally be allowed for by changing the number of MPs rather than the boundaries. An advantage of this is that the seat allocation can be updated very simply whenever the electoral roll is updated. Thus although drawing boundaries this way means that parity (the number of voters per MP) will vary by on average ±6%, this variability will not drift upwards over the years, with a likely political bias, as happens with the traditional boundary revision process.


Schedule of constituencies

ENGLAND (543 seats)

Northeast (27 seats)

1 Northumberland electorate 248062, seats 4 LAs: Northumberland

2 Tyneside North
electorate 343966, seats 5
LAs: Newcastle upon Tyne; North Tyneside

3 Tyneside South
electorate 463667, seats 6
LAs: Gateshead; South Tyneside; Sunderland

12 Manchester
electorate 349726, seats 5 LAs: Manchester

13 Trafford and Salford electorate 341258, seats 5 LAs: Salford; Trafford

14 Bolton and Wigan electorate 435405, seats 6 LAs: Bolton; Wigan

15 St Helens, Knowsley and Sefton electorate 469910, seats 7
LAs: Knowsley; Sefton; St. Helens

4 County Durham electorate 388779, LAs: County Durham

5 Teesside
electorate 490611,
LAs: Darlington; Hartlepool; Middlesbrough; Redcar and Cleveland; Stockton-on-Tees

Northwest (73 seats)

6 Cumbria
electorate 386052, seats 5
LAs: Allerdale; Barrow-in-Furness; Carlisle; Copeland; Eden; South Lakeland

7 Lancashire NW
electorate 359783, seats 5
LAs: Blackpool; Fylde; Lancaster; Wyre

8 Lancashire SW
electorate 352961, seats 5
LAs: Chorley; Preston; South Ribble; West Lancashire

seats 5

seats 3

seats 5

seats 7

9 Lancashire East
electorate 389125,
LAs: Blackburn with Darwen; Burnley; Hyndburn; Pendle; Ribble Valley; Rossendale

10 Bury, Rochdale and Oldham electorate 461828, seats 6
LAs: Bury; Oldham; Rochdale

11 Tameside and Stockport electorate 386172, seats 5 LAs: Stockport; Tameside

seats 5


16 Liverpool electorate 322441, LAs: Liverpool

17 Wirral electorate 240866, LAs: Wirral

18 Cheshire West
electorate 362639,
LAs: Cheshire West and Chester; Halton

19 Cheshire East
electorate 456175, seats 6 LAs: Cheshire East; Warrington

Yorkshire and Humber (54 seats)

20 Yorkshire NW
electorate 277046, seats 4
LAs: Hambleton; Richmondshire; Craven; Harrogate

21 Yorkshire NE and Selby electorate 340980, seats 5
LAs: Scarborough; Ryedale; York; Selby

22 Yorkshire East
electorate 442571, seats 6
LAs: East Riding of Yorkshire; Kingston upon Hull

23 Leeds West
electorate 273982,
LAs: the parts of Leeds in the current single-member constituencies of Leeds NE, Leeds NW, Leeds W and Pudsey

24 Leeds East
electorate 288795, seats 4
LAs: the parts of Leeds not in Leeds West

seats 5

seats 4

25 Bradford electorate 358903, LAs: Bradford

seats 5

38 Dudley and Sandwell electorate 454969, seats 6 LAs: Dudley; Sandwell

39 Wolverhampton and Walsall electorate 366535, seats 5
LAs: Walsall; Wolverhampton

40 Birmingham North
electorate 353590, seats 5
LAs: the parts of Birmingham in the current single-member constituencies of Birmingham Erdington, Birmingham Hodge Hill, Birmingham Ladywood, Birmingham Perry Barr and Sutton Coldfield

41 Birmingham South
electorate 362670, seats 5
LAs: the parts of Birmingham not in Birmingham North

42 Solihull and Coventry electorate 374562, seats 5 LAs: Coventry; Solihull

43 Warwickshire
electorate 425143, seats 6
LAs: North Warwickshire; Nuneaton and Bedworth; Rugby; Stratford-on-Avon; Warwick

East Midlands (47 seats)

44 Lincolnshire Central
electorate 333349, seats 5
LAs: East Lindsey; Lincoln; North Kesteven; West Lindsey

45 Lincolnshire South
electorate 211342, seats 3
LAs: Boston; South Holland; South Kesteven

46 Nottinghamshire North
electorate 343107, seats 5
LAs: Ashfield; Bassetlaw; Mansfield; Newark and Sherwood

47 Nottinghamshire South electorate 454550, seats 6
LAs: Broxtowe; Gedling; Nottingham; Rushcliffe

48 Derbyshire North
electorate 346603, seats 5
LAs: Bolsover; Chesterfield; Derbyshire Dales; High Peak; North East Derbyshire

26 Calderdale and Kirklees electorate 456875, seats 6 LAs: Calderdale; Kirklees

27 Wakefield electorate 252412, LAs: Wakefield

28 Sheffield electorate 393974, LAs: Sheffield

seats 4

seats 5

29 Barnsley and Rotherham electorate 372136, seats 5 LAs: Barnsley; Rotherham

30 Doncaster electorate 216359, LAs: Doncaster

seats 3

31 Lincolnshire North
electorate 238961, seats 3
LAs: North East Lincolnshire; North Lincolnshire

West Midlands (57 seats)

32 Stoke and Newcastle
electorate 261253, seats 4
LAs: Newcastle-under-Lyme; Stoke-on-Trent

33 Staffordshire East
electorate 301824, seats 4
LAs: East Staffordshire; Lichfield; Staffordshire Moorlands; Tamworth

34 Staffordshire West
electorate 262745, seats 4
LAs: Cannock Chase; South Staffordshire; Stafford

35 Shropshire
electorate 370861,
LAs: Shropshire; Telford and Wrekin

36 Herefordshire and Malvern electorate 202079, seats 3 LAs: Herefordshire; Malvern Hills

37 Worcestershire East
electorate 383812, seats 5
LAs: Bromsgrove; Redditch; Worcester; Wychavon; Wyre Forest

seats 5


49 Derbyshire South
electorate 440256, seats 6
LAs: Amber Valley; Derby; Erewash; South Derbyshire

50 Leicestershire North and Rutland electorate 372206, seats 5
LAs: Charnwood; Hinckley and Bosworth; Melton; North West Leicestershire; Rutland

51 Leicestershire South
electorate 402342, seats 5
LAs: Blaby; Harborough; Leicester; Oadby and Wigston

52 West Northamptonshire electorate 279313, seats 4
LAs: Daventry; Northampton; South Northamptonshire

53 North Northamptonshire electorate 242263, seats 3
LAs: Corby; East Northamptonshire; Kettering; Wellingborough

Eastern (61 seats)

54 Cambridgeshire North electorate 323426, seats 4 LAs: Fenland; Huntingdonshire; Peterborough

55 Cambridgeshire South
electorate 261042, seats 4
LAs: Cambridge; East Cambridgeshire; South Cambridgeshire

56 Norfolk West
electorate 298098, seats 4
LAs: Breckland; King's Lynn and West Norfolk; North Norfolk

57 Norfolk East
electorate 376131, seats 5
LAs: Broadland; Great Yarmouth; Norwich; South Norfolk

58 Suffolk West
electorate 269734,
LAs: Babergh; Mid Suffolk; West Suffolk

59 Suffolk East
electorate 282411, seats 4 LAs: East Suffolk; Ipswich

60 Essex East
electorate 299187, seats 4
LAs: Colchester; Maldon; Tendring

61 Essex North
electorate 309260, seats 4
LAs: Braintree; Chelmsford; Uttlesford

62 Essex West
electorate 349952, seats 5
LAs: Basildon; Brentwood; Epping Forest; Harlow

63 Essex South
electorate 376591, seats 5 LAs: Castle Point; Rochford; Southend-on-Sea; Thurrock

64 Hertfordshire East electorate 268695, seats 4 LAs: East Hertfordshire; North Hertfordshire; Stevenage

65 Hertfordshire South
electorate 282240, seats 4
LAs: Broxbourne; Hertsmere; Watford; Welwyn Hatfield

66 Hertfordshire West
electorate 281817, seats 4
LAs: Dacorum; St Albans; Three Rivers

67 Bedfordshire
electorate 461241, seats 6
LAs: Bedford; Central Bedfordshire; Luton

London (75 seats)

68 East End and Islington
electorate 479466, seats 7
LAs: Hackney; Islington; Tower Hamlets

69 West End
electorate 340933, seats 5
LAs: Camden; City of London; Kensington and Chelsea; Westminster

70 Hammersmith, Fulham and Wandsworth
electorate 315102, seats 4
LAs: Hammersmith and Fulham; Wandsworth

71 Lambeth and Southwark electorate 406960, seats 6 LAs: Lambeth; Southwark

seats 4


72 Lewisham and Greenwich electorate 357354, seats 5 LAs: Greenwich; Lewisham

73 London East
electorate 491122, seats 7
LAs: Barking and Dagenham; Havering; Redbridge

74 Newham and Waltham Forest electorate 349903, seats 5
LAs: Newham; Waltham Forest

75 Enfield and Haringey electorate 354719, seats 5 LAs: Enfield; Haringey

76 Barnet and Brent electorate 427965, seats 6 LAs: Barnet; Brent

77 Harrow and Hillingdon electorate 355329, seats 5 LAs: Harrow; Hillingdon

78 Ealing and Hounslow electorate 375469, seats 5 LAs: Ealing; Hounslow

79 London Southwest
electorate 374506, seats 5
LAs: Kingston upon Thames; Merton; Richmond upon Thames

80 Sutton and Croydon electorate 396729, seats 5 LAs: Croydon; Sutton

81 Bromley and Bexley electorate 404928, seats 5 LAs: Bexley; Bromley

Southeast (91 seats)

82 Kent North
electorate 342899, seats 5
LAs: Dartford; Gravesham; Medway

83 Kent Central
electorate 321344, seats 4 LAs: Ashford; Maidstone; Swale

84 Kent East
electorate 374645, seats 5
LAs: Canterbury; Dover; Folkestone and Hythe; Thanet

85 Kent West
electorate 269107, seats 4
LAs: Sevenoaks; Tonbridge and Malling; Tunbridge Wells

86 East Sussex
electorate 409854, seats 6
LAs: Eastbourne; Hastings; Lewes; Rother; Wealden

87 Sussex South
electorate 447686, seats 6
LAs: Adur; Arun; Brighton and Hove; Worthing


88 Sussex West
electorate 388290,
LAs: Chichester; Crawley; Horsham; Mid Sussex

89 Surrey East
electorate 386953,
LAs: Elmbridge; Epsom and Ewell; Mole Valley; Reigate and Banstead; Tandridge

90 Surrey West
electorate 458283, seats 6
LAs: Guildford; Runnymede; Spelthorne; Surrey Heath; Waverley; Woking

91 Milton Keynes electorate 180294, LAs: Milton Keynes

seats 3

seats 5

seats 5

92 Buckinghamshire electorate 396713, seats 6 LAs: Buckinghamshire

93 Oxfordshire
electorate 492268, seats 7
LAs: Cherwell; Oxford; South Oxfordshire; Vale of White Horse; West Oxfordshire

94 Berkshire East
electorate 276726, seats 4
LAs: Bracknell Forest; Slough; Windsor and Maidenhead

95 Berkshire West
electorate 349108,
LAs: Reading; West Berkshire; Wokingham

96 Hampshire NE
electorate 362511, seats 5
LAs: Basingstoke and Deane; East Hampshire; Hart; Rushmoor

seats 5

97 Hampshire South
electorate 388023, seats 5
LAs: Fareham; Gosport; Havant; Portsmouth

98 Hampshire Central
electorate 288522, seats 4
LAs: Eastleigh; Test Valley; Winchester

99 Southampton and New Forest electorate 297602, seats 4
LAs: New Forest; Southampton

110 Somerset West
electorate 207628, seats 3
LAs: Sedgemoor; Somerset West and Taunton Deane

111 Devon East
electorate 207013, seats 3 LAs: East Devon; Exeter

112 Devon North
electorate 340471, seats 5
LAs: Mid Devon; North Devon; Teignbridge; Torridge; West Devon

113 Devon South
electorate 361441, seats 5
LAs: Plymouth; South Hams; Torbay

114 Cornwall and Scilly electorate 431501, seats 6 LAs: Cornwall; Isles of Scilly

WALES (32 seats)

115 Gwynedd
electorate 226626, seats 3
LAs: Conwy; Gwynedd; Isle of Anglesey

116 Clwyd
electorate 285767, seats 4
LAs: Denbighshire; Flintshire; Wrexham

100 Isle of Wight electorate 109891, LAs: Isle of Wight

seats 2

Southwest (58 seats)

101 Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
electorate 282845, seats 4
LAs: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

102 Dorset electorate 298106, LAs: Dorset

103 Wiltshire electorate 371728, LAs: Wiltshire

seats 4

seats 5

104 Swindon and Cotswold electorate 223414, seats 3 LAs: Cotswold; Swindon

105 Gloucestershire West electorate 405187, seats 6
LAs: Cheltenham; Forest of Dean; Gloucester; Stroud; Tewkesbury

106 South Gloucestershire electorate 214339, seats 3 LAs: South Gloucestershire

107 Bristol
electorate 320825, seats 4 LAs: Bristol

108 Somerset North
electorate 298793, seats 4
LAs: Bath and North East Somerset; North Somerset

109 Somerset SE
electorate 216150, seats 3 LAs: Mendip; South Somerset

117 Powys electorate 103433, LAs: Powys

118 Dyfed
electorate 292719,
LAs: Carmarthenshire; Ceredigion; Pembrokeshire

119 West Glamorgan
electorate 283958, seats 4
LAs: Neath Port Talbot; Swansea

120 Mid Glamorgan
electorate 327805, seats 4
LAs: Bridgend; Merthyr Tydfil; Rhondda Cynon Taf

121 South Glamorgan electorate 350435, seats 5 LAs: Cardiff; Vale of Glamorgan

122 Gwent West
electorate 252108, seats 3
LAs: Blaenau Gwent; Caerphilly; Torfaen


seats 2

seats 4

123 Newport and Monmouthshire electorate 181789, seats 3
LAs: Monmouthshire; Newport

SCOTLAND (57 seats)

124 Orkney and Shetland electorate 34387, seats 1 LAs: Shetland; Orkney

125 Na h-Eileanan an Iar electorate 21151, seats 1 LAs: Eilean Siar

126 Highland and Argyll electorate 245440, seats 4 LAs: Highland; Argyll and Bute

127 Grampian
electorate 418605, seats 6
LAs: Moray; Aberdeenshire; Aberdeen

136 Falkirk and West Lothian electorate 253055, seats 3 LAs: Falkirk; West Lothian

137 Edinburgh
electorate 349398, seats 5 LAs: Edinburgh

138 Southeast Scotland
electorate 241000, seats 3
LAs: Midlothian; East Lothian; Scottish Borders

139 Dumfries and Galloway electorate 114993, seats 2 LAs: Dumfries and Galloway


140 Northern Ireland West
electorate 288485, seats 4
LAs: Fermanagh and Omagh; Derry and Strabane; Mid Ulster

141 Northern Ireland North
electorate 295456, seats 4
LAs: Causeway Coast and Glens; Mid and East Antrim; Antrim and Newtownabbey

142 Northern Ireland East electorate 341826, seats 5
LAs: Belfast; Ards and North Down

143 Northern Ireland South
electorate 369921, seats 5
LAs: Lisburn and Castlereagh; Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon; Newry, Mourne and Down

128 Tayside electorate 191982, LAs: Angus; Dundee

seats 3

129 Perthshire and Stirling electorate 217796, seats 3 LAs: Perth and Kinross; Stirling; Clackmannanshire

130 Fife electorate 276211, LAs: Fife

seats 4

131 West Central Scotland electorate 334919, seats 4
LAs: West Dunbartonshire; Inverclyde; Renfrewshire; East Renfrewshire

132 Glasgow
electorate 437909, seats 6 LAs: Glasgow

133 North Lanark and East Dunbartonshire
electorate 336687, seats 5
LAs: East Dunbartonshire; North Lanarkshire

134 South Lanark electorate 249304, seats 3 LAs: South Lanarkshire

135 Ayrshire
electorate 289592, seats 4
LAs: North Ayrshire; East Ayrshire; South Ayrshire


Appendix: Methodology

The overall methodology is "boundaries first, allocation second". Thus, using the electoral quota for the UK (electors/650) of about 73 K as a guide, constituencies based on LAs were identified with electorates of 250-400 K where possible, but allowing 200-500 where necessary. That corresponds roughly to "prefer 4 or 5 member constituencies, but 3, 6 or 7 are allowed where necessary. The 3-7 seat range is widely agreed to work best for STV, and is recommended more generally for electoral systems by the electoral experts Carey and Hix (2011).

This roughly 1:2 range of sizes gives sufficient flexibility to draw up boundaries entirely based on LAs, and where grouping several together is required doing so in a way that fits local ties. It is interesting to note that current government gidelines for the size of new Unitary Authorities agree not only in having a 1:2 range of allowed sizes, but choosing almost exactly the same size range - population 300-600 K, which corresponds to roughly 200-400 K electorate.

Once boundaries have been drawn, seats can be allocated by any of the well-established sharing algorithms.The US Huntingdon-Hill (HH) method for allocations of congressional seats between states is used here; St Lague would give very similar results. Each works in terms of a quota: St L gives seats equal to the nearest whole number of quotas arithmetically, HH does the same in proportional terms. There is very little difference, but conceptually HH seems preferable - certainly its adoption in the US came after careful consideration and after trying out d'Hondt, St L and at least one other method previously. In either case the maximum discrepancy in parity (at the borderline between allocating 3 and 4 seats) is around 15%. But the standard deviation in parity is around 6%, and the scheme has the great advantage that it can be updated very easily to current electorates. Traditional boundary revisons may give a smaller variation in parity initially, but with revisions at best at around 10 year intervals they can easily drift to much greater variability..

A small number of geographically special cases are allowed: the two Scottish island constituencies and the Isle of Wight, plus two very extensive rural LAs, that do not group easily with a neighbour. These are Dumfries and Galloway and Powys, which each have electorates close to that of the Isle of Wight. An allowance of "+10%" has also been made for the geographically huge area of the Highlands which would otherwise fall just short of getting 4 seats. For the 1 and 2-seat cases 1-sided limit on unfairness is used, so that no seat can have more than 15% electors above quota.


Carey, John M and Hix, Simon (2011) 'The Electoral Sweet Spot: Low-Magnitude Proportional Electoral Systems', American Journal of Political Science, 55, 2, 383-397.