PR hindered Hitler

Every now and again, someone claims that PR put Hitler in power. It didn’t, so let’s put that false claim to rest.

Most of them probably aren’t deliberately lying; they may believe it but they haven’t researched the issue.

The Guardian published a slightly edited letter from me on this subject yesterday. Here is the unedited version:

“Florence Ingram (Letters, 21 September) is totally wrong to blame proportional representation (PR) for the rise of Hitler.

Far from helping the Nazis, PR prevented them from legally gaining the absolute power they would have gained under First Past The Post (FPTP). They seized power illegally.

In the 1933 General Election, the Nazis had the most votes and won the most seats but, because the election was by PR and they did not have a majority of votes, they did not have a majority of seats so Hitler formed a minority Government.

At his war crimes trial after the war, Goering gave evidence that the Nazis would have won every seat if the election had been by the British FPTP system. (Source: “How Democracies vote” by Enid Lakeman.)

Unable to achieve complete power by a democratic PR election, Hitler and the Nazis subsequently seized power illegally by a Putsch.”

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