Representative democracy?

Geography and the British electoral system

By Ron Johnston, Charles Pattie and David Rossiter

Representative democracy?


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  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3989-4
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: January 2021
  • BIC Category: British Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections, Society & social sciences / Political structures: democracy, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Society & social sciences / Elections & referenda


Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom are elected to represent geographic constituencies; but how are these defined and what are the consequences for democracy?

Tracing the UK's system of parliamentary representation from its origins in the thirteenth century right through to the present, this comprehensive new survey reveals how a system initially designed to restrain the power of monarchs gradually evolved to serve their interests, then those of political parties before the twentieth century 'settlement' of an independent process for revising the constituency map.

That settlement is now under pressure, with the traditional pattern of constituencies representing communities about to be replaced by one which elevates numbers above community. Advanced under the slogan of 'making votes equal', this new regime promises fairness yet, as the authors show, is destined to fail to address the disproportional and biased election results that have long been a feature of UK politics.

Concluding with a detailed consideration of the ways in which various parts of the UK have embraced alternatives to first-past-the-post over the last two decades, this book serves as a timely reminder that the needs of political parties do not always coincide with those of us, the electors.


1 Introduction
2 Representation: of whom, what and where?
3 Creating an electoral system: 1832-1918
4 Consolidating the system: 1930-2010
5 The 2011 legislation: major changes?
6 How representative is our democracy?
7 Does it have to be this way?
8 Conclusion


Ron Johnston was Professor of Geography in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol

Charles Pattie is Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield

David Rossiter is now an independent researcher, having previously held posts at several British universities

Representative democracy?

By Ron Johnston, Charles Pattie, David Rossiter

Paperback £14.99 / $21.95

Hardcover £80.00 / $120.00

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