Explain the main impacts of any two electoral systems other than First Past the Post (10 marks)
Proportional systems such as closed party list are distinctly more in favour of smaller parties than most other systems. This is attributed to the fact that the percentage of votes cast in favour of a party directly corresponds to the percentage of seats they gain; this leads to an exceptionally more accurate result than majoritarian systems. Because of this, parties which are marginalised in a majoritarian or plurality system are not discounted from seats if they fail to win a constituency vote. As such, under a proportional system, in 2010 parties other than the Lib Dems, Tories, and Labour would have over double the seats they did; 77 compared to the actual 35. This highly ...view middle of the document...
This has led many to state that a proportional system will usually lead to a coalition government. The potential for intense political diversity in this coalition can be seen to be a sign of a weak government due to the difficulty of passing motions without complete partisan support.
Majoritarian systems usually favour a two-party system due to the systems’ necessity for majority rule; as such, the two largest parties are always most likely to gain this majority. However, this does not eliminate the presence of a third party such as the Liberal Democrats; because the Liberal Democrats are seen as a more middle ground alternative to Labour or the Tories, they are often not a voters’ first choice. Under a preferential system such as AV, this marginalisation of the third party would not happen, as they would likely hold the balance of power in their hands depending on the distribution of second choice votes after the first round. Not only would this help Lib Dem voters be more satisfied with a non-Liberal government, but they would gain more MPs by redistribution in constituencies; in 2010 under AV, the Liberal Democrats would have had 79 seats compared to 57 before. Labour conversely would have won the election due to voters for more radical left-wing parties not considering Labour as their first choice in their constituency.
Majoritarian elections produce, by definition, a majority government; in AV, the aim is to gain over 50% of the seats through redistribution of people’s second choices, in order to satisfy the largest amount of people and thereby gain a strong mandate for government. The government itself would be strong also, as there is no opportunity for bipartisanship or coalition government to undermine the efficiency of the legislative process.