What are Party Lists?

Under List PR, voters elect candidates in multi-member districts, or sometimes an entire country. The Labour party introduced this system for elections to the European Parliament.

Because a party chooses the order of its candidates in a closed party list, voters are denied the freedom to choose between individual candidates. For those that think MPs should just be mere automata, blindly voting in line with what their leadership deems to be their class interest, this system may make sense - but thankfully the Conservative Party has never been such an organisation! 

Floating voters are discouraged from voting Conservatives if they like some of our candidates but not others, as they cannot back those they support without also backing those they do not.

Party lists are completely impersonal, weakening any link between the representative, an area and its voters.  The party, responsible for selection, is also responsible for holding candidates to account - whilst voters are unable to hold candidates to hold them to account.

As candidates are selected by the party leaders, they are likely to opt disproportionately for 'safe' candidates, at the expense of traditionally under-represented groups and independent and minority opinion within their ranks.  Rather than using gender quotas, under STV local associations may - if they so choose - field a gender-balanced slate of candidates and let the voters decide on the issue of women's representation.  Under STV, the Conservatives would be rewarded by fielding a slate of candidates with our party's great diversity of views as they are likelier to attract subsequent preferences of other parties' supporters.

So called 'open party-lists' do also exist, but in many ways their openness is an illusion. Due to their complexity, the vast majority of voters will choose to vote for a party rather than to attempt to support individuals. The millions of people supporting the party's ordering makes the efforts of thousands of informed voters redundant.