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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.

STV: the principles

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 chair 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 (click to see a larger version).


For more on electoral systems go to:


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


Further details of STV are in the following documents:

Map and schedule of constituencies

Advantages of the scheme

Fuller details