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Saturday, 9 June, 2001, 18:48 GMT 19:48 UK
Tactical voting - did you swing it?

Tactical voting is becoming more significant in determining the outcome of marginal seats in general elections. In 1997 it is estimated that it cost the Tories 47 seats.

In the absence of electoral reform, tactical voting offers an alternative to wasting your vote or not voting at all.

This election saw the emergence of around six vote-swapping websites which registered thousands of users.

Did you use the Internet to discuss your voting intentions? Did your vote against a candidate change the party that represents your constituency? Is this an effective way for a democracy to function?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

It seems to me that tactical voting is one of the few methods available in a first-past-the-post electoral system by which a dominant but out-of-favour party can be dislodged. Even a large reduction in the proportional vote share of such a party may be meaningless if the swing is merely away from that party, rather than to a particular other party. Until our electoral system is better equipped to handle this waning support for the old political giants, tactical voting should, and will, be a valuable tool for the electorate.
Mark, Ottawa, Canada

They don't want opinions, just sheep

Mark, UK
If you have properly considered the issues and come to an opinion, then any vote, tactical or not, is effective democracy. Indulging in 'party bashing' or suchlike is not. Democracy gives the right to vote, it also demands the responsibility to vote for a properly considered reason. This is where today's politicians consistently fail us - they don't want opinions, just sheep.
Mark, UK

Tactical voting does not work. Indeed, British parliamentary democracy does not work. The whole process has been corrupted by the party system. Take my neighbouring constituency, St Helens South: How on this earth did the residents think Mr Woodward could begin to represent them in London? The people saw the colour of his rosette and blindly voted for the Labour Party. If there is such a strong emphasis in this country on Party politics, we need a proportional representation system so that those who vote for a party see their votes count rather than being rendered ineffective by the overwhelming 'blind' voting for a certain party when we should get back to electing our representatives based on what they can do for us in London.
Graham, Wigan, UK

I voted tactically and I used an internet vote-swapping site. In the constituency of Somerton and Frome in Somerset where, in 1997, the Lib Dems had a majority of 130 over the Tories, a Labour vote has no influence on the result. Therefore I voted Lib Dem here and my swap-partner in a marginal Labour/Tory constituency voted Labour instead of his first choice of Lib Dem. (And last night the Lib Dems held this seat with a slightly increased majority.) This action was forced upon me because of our outdated and undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system. Vote-swapping internet sites are a catalyst for tactical voting, and tactical voting is a means by which voters can simulate a fairer, more proportional electoral system.
Terry Sessford, Somerset, UK


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