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Comparing Electoral Processes In Uk Essay

1038 words - 5 pages

Electoral Systems in the UK

There are two main types of electoral system in the UK:
First Past the Post (FPTP) & Proportional Representation (PR)

First Past the Post (FPTP);

FPTP is the voting system used for the election of MPs to 'seats' in the UK Parliament. It is a system in which the 'winner takes all' and usually gives a clear majority both at constituency and national level. This means that a candidate in a constituency only needs one more vote than the nearest rival to win the seat. Similarly, political parties only need to win one more seat in the House of Commons to have a majority.

Advantages of FPTP;

There is very little chance of extremist parties being ...view middle of the document...

This was shown in the 1983 general election when the Liberal/SDP Alliance won 25.4% of the vote and gained 23 seats while the Labour Party won 27.7% of the vote and gained 209 seats.

FPTP also encourages tactical (unfair) voting. This means voting for a party, other than your preferred party, to prevent another party from being elected. An example of this would be when a Labour supporter in a marginal Liberal/ Conservative seat votes Liberal Democrat in order to keep the Conservatives from winning.

Another disadvantage of FPTP can occur in marginal constituencies, where voters tend to change their party loyalty from election to election, and among 'floating' or 'swing' voters, who have no firm party loyalty. The outcome of an election can be decided on the voting patterns in these situations, even although the constituents may number only a tiny proportion of the electorate.

Proportional Representation (PR)
There is a number of systems that use PR such as the Single Transferable Vote (STV) (the Regional and National Lists) and the Alternative Vote. There is a third system that combines these two, known as the Additional Member System (AMS) or the hybrid or top-up system. The AMS system is presently used in elections for the Scottish Parliament, where voters can vote for single candidates in their constituencies but also for candidates from regional 'lists' put forward by each party. If there is a discrepancy between the percentage of seats the party has won and the percentage of votes cast, the seats are 'topped up' from the regional list.

Advantages of PR;
In PR systems there are no wasted votes in elections. Every vote is
counted and so there is no need for tactical voting. As a result,
there is a far greater degree of proportionality; the number of seats
more accurately reflects the number of votes cast for each party.

The number of constituency seats won under the First Past the Post-election and the number won under the Additional Member System in Scotland in 1999 were:
Party Constituency Seats Regional or ‘List’ Seats Total

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