Representative democracy?

Geography and the British electoral system

By Ron Johnston, Charles Pattie and David Rossiter

Representative democracy?


  • eBook
  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3989-4
  • Pages: 248
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: January 2021
  • BIC Category: POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections, Society & social sciences / Political structures: democracy, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Society & social sciences / Elections & referenda, British Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy


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

Following the Conservative party's large majority in the 2019 General Election, some have suggested that drastic changes to Britain's constituency boundaries could be afoot, affecting every corner of the UK. As populations grow and move, it is commonly accepted that changes are necessary, but these are fraught with difficulty and the political consequences may be drastic.

This major new survey reveals how constituency mapping has changed since 1832. Tackling issues such as the evolution of an independent procedure, first introduced in 1944, and the new rules for redistributions introduced in 2011, this book illustrates how election results have favoured some political parties over others. Placing a constituency map over the geography of support for political parties can not only produce very uneven geographical patterns of representation, but disproportional and biased election results. Is our electoral system and the way it is mapped fit for purpose?

Written by three senior scholars, this timely and judicious new book contains much original material about the changed electoral environment and its implications for Britain's representative democracy.


1 Introduction
2 Representation - but representation of whom, what and where?
3 Towards universal franchise and creating an electoral system: constituency redistributions 1832-1918
4 Consolidating the system of redistributions: 1930-2010
5 The 2011 legislation - major changes?
6 How representative is our democracy: disproportionality and bias
7 Does it have to be this way? Alternative electoral systems


Ron Johnston is 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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