How Brexit ultimately points out the fatal flaws of first-past-the-post

Britain, and maybe all of Europe, is in shock. The people have decided. Democracy at work. Disappointment on the part of the Remain voters is understandable. They turn to demographics to vent and to petitions to soften the blow. But Leave voters? Really??!

The bubble burst early when the pound plummeted and people watched their pension funds crumble. This, at least, proved those wrong who thought nothing was going to change anyways. Way more shocking and puzzling, for many of those who are not Britons themselves, is the fact that there is a potent call for a second referendum and frequent reports of Leave voters voicing their regret and ignorance.

To some extent, this can be credited to the media and its dedication to tell customers what they want to hear. Of course the metropolitan readers jump onto the idea of the ‘ignorant, old and rural’ masses coming to their senses, cling onto the hope that maybe this is just a temporary nightmare. A second referendum, of course, is absurd. That is precisely NOT how democracy works. You cannot simply hold referendum after referendum until everyone agrees and lives happily ever after. Changing rules about voter participation and then applying them on a past decision is also out of the question.

“I thought we were going to stay anyway, otherwise I would have never voted leave”, this seems to be the common argument of those going back on their already cast and counted vote. Ignorance is the motive for such a choice that comes to mind first and seems plausible. The fact that many of those picked by journalists to say such things on the record seem to think that the UK has already left the EU supports this. It is more though. Especially English voters (as opposed to, e.g. Scottish ones) are simply not used to their vote making too much of a difference in who ‘wins’, courtesy of their lovely voting system: First-past-the-post, where only the candidate with the absolute majority troops off to Westminster.

When you think about it the way people vote (or rather, the way their vote counts and takes effect) might have had more long term effects as well that play a role in this decision. All those ‘old, rural, English racists’ have been voting and supporting UKIP for years. 12.5% of the entire electorate voted UKIP during the general election in 2015. That is 1 in every 8 voters. And how many UKIP MPs are there? One. One out of 345. Does’t add up, does it? No wonder people are a little bit disillusioned by the establishment of mainstream politics. I doubt these people cared particularly whether the EU has a democratic deficit, seeing as their own democracy does not seem to help them make their voices heard.

Well, those votes, may they be ones of anger, confusion or ignorance, have been cast. Democracy in the end is the right of the people to make stupid decisions (and funnily enough, most people seem to agree now that it is indeed one).

While proportional representation certainly has its flaws, maybe it would have saved us from a Brexit in the long term… But oh well! Britain, we still love you. All the best and good luck (you’ll need it, by the looks of it)!

B x

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