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Electoral Systems Essay

1806 words - 8 pages

There is an on-going debate in Africa in general and Zambia in particular on what type of electoral system suits African contemporary political systems. In Zambia the debate is on wheter to adopt the majoritarian system (50%+1) in the current constitution making process or to remain with the current system which is the First Past The Post electoral system. The aim of this essay is to discuss the features of the two types of electoral system and point out of the two, which best suits the contemporary political system of Zambia. It will begin which describing the two electoral systems and then move on to the main aim, thereafter a conclusion will follow.
A first-past-the-post (abbreviated ...view middle of the document...

The most often cited advantages are that: It provides a clear-cut choice for voters between two main parties (Lijphart, 1999).
It advantages broadly-based political parties. In severely ethnically or regionally divided societies, FPTP is commended for encouraging political parties to be ‘broad churches’, encompassing many elements of society, particularly when there are only two major parties and many different societal groups. These parties can then field a diverse array of candidates for election (Powell, 1982).
The Majoritarian electoral system is also called the 50 plus one system in Political Science. This system allows a winning candidate to have more than 50% of the votes, hence having the majority votes in an election. 50 plus one also helps the incumbent president to have legitimacy from the voters as most people will see the power of their votes being manifested in the man or woman they eventually send to State House. Further, the majoritarian system will also reduce cases of electoral disputes as the person who becomes president wins outright unlike the current situation were a president can win with a meagre 35,000 votes and the losers live with suspicions of fraud and the stealing of votes. This system ensures that if no candidate wins more than 50% in the first round, the first two candidates head for a run-off election in which the voters choose a candidate who evntually presides over their nation for a prescribed number of years (Reilly, 2002).
Also called “second ballot” systems, majority electoral systems attempt to provide for a greater degree of representativeness by requiring that candidates achieve a majority of votes in order to win. “Majority” is normally defined as 50%-plus-one-vote. If no candidate gets a majority of votes, then a second round of voting is held (often a week or so after the initial ballot). In the second round of voting, only a select number of candidates from the first round are allowed to participate. Like plurality systems, majority systems usually rely on single-member constituencies, and allow voters to indicate only one preference on their ballot (ibid).
In large-scale public elections the two rounds of the majoritarian system are held on separate days, and so involve voters going to the polls twice. In smaller elections, such as those in assemblies or private organisations, it is sometimes possible to conduct both rounds in quick succession. However the fact that it involves two rounds means that, for large elections, majoritarian system is more expensive than some other electoral systems. It may also lead to voter fatigue and a reduced turn-out in the second round (Lijphart, 1999).
One of the strongest criticisms against the two-round voting system is the cost required to conduct two ballots. The two-round voting system also has the potential to cause political instability between the two rounds of voting, adding further to the economic impact of the two-round electoral system (Powell,...

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