How many seats did Reform UK win - and why they don't match its vote share? (2024)

Watch: Nigel Farage becomes MP at eighth attempt

“Believe you me, the appetite for electoral reform is going to be enormous after this election.” Those were the words of Reform UK leader Nigel Farage after finally winning a parliamentary seat on his eighth attempt.

Farage has seen his party win dozens fewer seats than the Liberal Democrats, despite winning a higher share of the national vote.

By 9am, and with only a handful of seats left to declare, the picture of the election was already clear with the Lib Dems having secured 12% of the vote and 71 seats and Reform taking 14%, but only five seats. The Green Party also emerged with four MPs, despite having 7% of the total vote.

It's certainly the case that many people vote tactically – one poll prior to 4 July suggested as many as one in five voters were ready to do just that. Many others also choose to cast a protest vote.

But the contrast remains stark – if Reform UK has a higher share of the popular vote than the Lib Dems, why did it win so few seats by comparison?

How many seats did the Lib Dems win?

As of 8.45am on Friday, the Liberal Democrats had won in 71 constituencies – 10.9% of the 650 seats – with 12.3% of the overall vote.

It makes Sir Ed Davey's party the third largest in parliament and represents a significant improvement on their 2019 election result, when they returned with just 11 MPs.

How many seats did Reform UK win?

Reform UK won five seats.

Alongside Nigel Farage's victory in Clacton, Essex, the new party picked up seats in Ashfield in the East Midlands, where the Conservatives were pushed into fourth, Great Yarmouth in East Anglia, Boston & Skegness and South Basildon & East Thurrock.

What is 'first past the post' and why does it lead to results like this?

The reason for the apparent disparity if the UK's first past the post (FPTP) voting system - in which the candidate with the largest number of votes in their constituency is elected.

It’s a simple premise, but one that benefits Labour and the Conservatives.

According to the Electoral Reform Society, which is against FPTP, this system leads to a situation where “even if millions of voters support the same party, if they are thinly spread out across the UK they may only get the largest number of votes in a couple of these contests – so only win a few MPs".

How many seats did Reform UK win - and why they don't match its vote share? (2)

“Tens of thousands of voters supporting a different party, but who live near each other, could end up with more MPs. This means the number of MPs a party has in parliament rarely matches their popularity with the public.”

Farage already knows this well. As the leader of UKIP in the 2015 election, he saw his party win 12.6% of the nationwide vote and one seat. The Liberal Democrats won 7.9% of the vote and eight seats.

Those who defend FPTP point to the fact it gives a clear choice for voters between two main parties and also means there is a clearly defined opposition party. It also is more likely to exclude extremist parties from parliamentary representation as well as giving popular independent candidates the chance to be elected.

What is proportional representation?

Those who argue that FPTP is unfair propose a different voting system.

Proportional representation, as defined by the UK parliament, is an electoral system "in which the distribution of seats corresponds closely with the proportion of the total votes cast for each party. For example, if a party gained 40% of the total votes, a perfectly proportional system would allow them to gain 40% of the seats."

This differs from the first past the post system, as set out above, in which a relatively high vote share rarely corresponds with increased seats for the smaller parties.

Both Reform UK and the Lib Dems support proportional representation.

The Lib Dems made it part of their manifesto, with the party saying it would introduce the single transferrable vote method, a form of proportional representation which allows electors to rank their preference of candidates on the ballot.

How many seats did Reform UK win - and why they don't match its vote share? (3)

In 2019, the Lib Dems won 11.5% of the vote but only 11 - 1.7% - of the 650 seats. FPTP worked out better for the party this time round, winning 62 more seats with just a 0.8% increase in the vote share.

But leader Sir Ed Davey doubled down on his electoral reform commitment on Friday, telling the BBC: "The British political system is still broken and electoral reform is a key part of that."

The party previously sought to change the UK’s voting system while in the coalition government under then-leader Nick Clegg, but voters rejected the plan in a 2011 referendum.

Farage himself has even pledged to work with the Lib Dems on the matter.

In his Clacton victory speech on Friday, he said: “I was Nigel Farage MEP for 21 years, I won two national elections under proportional representation.

“Believe you me, the appetite for electoral reform is going to be enormous after this election, and that’s one of the many things that I’m going to be up front, out there, campaigning for.

"I might even work with the Lib Dems on that.”

How many seats did Reform UK win - and why they don't match its vote share? (2024)

FAQs

How many MPs does Reform UK have? ›

Reform UK unexpectedly gained its fifth and final MP in South Basildon and East Thurrock after James McMurdock beat Labour with a majority of just 98 votes.

What were the results of the election in the UK? ›

Labour won 411 seats, up 209 on their total from the 2019 election. The Conservatives won 121 seats, down 244 from their 2019 total of 365 seats. The Liberal Democrats gained 61 seats for a total of 72, while the Scottish National Party won nine seats, down from 48 in 2019.

How many seats are there in total in the UK? ›

The United Kingdom is currently divided into 650 parliamentary constituencies. One Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons represents a single constituency. Constituency boundaries in the UK have changed.

How many seats for a majority in the UK? ›

What is the new government's simple majority? There are 650 seats in parliament. To have an overall majority, a political party must win over half of these seats: at least 326.

Is Reform UK left or right-wing? ›

Reform UK is a right-wing populist political party in the United Kingdom.

Where is Reforms 5th seat? ›

Reform UK has won a fifth seat as the final election result in England was declared at South Basildon and East Thurrock, following a recount.

How many seats are in UK politics? ›

There are 650 constituencies in the United Kingdom, each made up of an average of 65,925 voters. The First-Past-the-Post system means that every constituency elects one MP each (except the constituency of the Speaker, whose seat is uncontested).

How many MP seats are in the UK parliament? ›

The House of Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament (MPs). MPs are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved.

Who is the UK Prime Minister in 2024? ›

Sir Keir Starmer became Prime Minister on 5 July 2024. He was elected as the member for Holborn and St Pancras in May 2015. He was elected leader of the Labour Party in April 2020.

Who is the head of Seat UK? ›

Milton Keynes, 25/07/2023 SEAT and CUPRA UK is today announcing the appointment of Marcus Gossen as its new Director. He will start in the role on 1 September 2023.

Who is the head of the British Parliament? ›

Lucy Powell MP

Lucy Powell was appointed Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons on 5 July 2024. They were elected as the MP for Manchester Central in July 2024.

How many seats are there? ›

The Constitution of India allows for a maximum of 550 members in the House, with 530 members representing the States and 20 representing the Union Territories. At present, the Lok Sabha has 543 seats filled by elected representatives.

Is conservative left or right in the UK? ›

The party sits on the right-wing to centre-right of the political spectrum. It encompasses various ideological factions including one-nation conservatives, Thatcherites, and traditionalist conservatives. There have been twenty Conservative prime ministers.

Is Scotland conservative or liberal? ›

At Westminster, Scotland is represented by 44 MPs from the Scottish National Party, six from the Conservative Party, two from the Labour Party and four from the Liberal Democrats elected in the 2019 United Kingdom general election; as well as two MPs who were elected for SNP but have since defected to the Alba Party, ...

What is the UK equivalent of a senator? ›

House of Lords
The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled
Opposition Chief WhipThe Baroness Williams of Trafford, Conservative since 4 July 2024
Structure
Seats774
20 more rows

How many total MPs are there in the UK? ›

The House of Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament (MPs). MPs are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved.

How many seats does the Green party have in the UK? ›

Green Party of England and Wales
International affiliationGlobal Greens
ColoursGreen
Devolved branchesWales Green Party London Green Party
House of Commons (English and Welsh seats)4 / 575
25 more rows

Who was the longest serving MP in the UK? ›

Charles Pelham Villiers was the longest continuously serving MP. He was elected in 1835 and remained an MP continuously for over 62 years until his death on 16 January 1898, aged 96 years 13 days.

How many Scottish seats are in Westminster? ›

Scotland's 57 MPs are preparing to be sworn in at Westminster after a dramatic general election.

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