European Government and Politics
Continuous Assessment 2
Name: Shane O Callaghan
Student Number: 109819851
Assess the merits of the political reform process underway in the UK. You should examine the proposed changes under a number of headings including but not limited to the electoral system, the House of Lords, and open government. You must discuss why potential reform should take place, its observable implications and consider comparative examples where the changes already exist.
Elections are an integral figure in any countries political system. Elections are also important symbolically in most competitive party systems, legitimizing a country’s political system ...view middle of the document...
The House of Lords had been deadlocked with the House of Commons over the referendum, insisting on imposing an amendment to the bill that would make the referendum nonbinding if less than 40 per cent of the public take part. These include a proposal to make the result of a referendum on replacing first-past-the-post with the alternative vote (AV) non-binding if turnout was under 40%.The other votes by MPs, all passed with majorities between 60 and 85, mean the Government’s proposals to cut the number of Parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600 are still intact. Currently the UK employs the single-member plurality system. The country is divided up into 659 constituencies, each returning one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons. Within each constituency the candidate winning the most votes, whether or not the tally amounts to a majority, becomes the MP. Other bodies within the UK are most commonly elected by forms of PR.
The first point I wish to draw your attention to is the matter of the electoral system and the proposed changes to the system. As you know electoral systems are very diverse and complex and ’the rules that govern how votes are cast and seats allocated differ markedly from one country to another. LeDuc, G. Niemi and Norris (1996, p.50) give a perfect example of this; in 1983, the first election in a major nation where voters were passing judgement on the record of a neo conservative government, the Tories where re-elected with more seats than before even though they actually received less votes than the previous election in 1979. The outcome of this election would have been a lot different if the UK used proportional representation. The electoral system used by the UK (House of Commons) is a majoritarian type of system called single-member plurality system. The UK public elects 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons. MPs consider and propose new laws, and can scrutinise government policies by asking minister’s questions about current issues either in the Commons Chamber or in Committees. PR systems therefore make single party majority rule less likely, and are commonly associated with multi-party systems and coalition governments. With the case of the current electoral system in the UK, First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), the system currently used to elect members of the House of Commons, is renowned for its simplicity. FPTP voting takes place in single-member constituencies (using FPTP to elect multiple representatives is known as Multiple Non-Transferable Vote, or MNTV). To vote under FPTP, the voter simply puts a cross in a box next to one candidate. The candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins. All other votes count for nothing. First past the post, this system is also used in America, Canada and also India.
The debate in the UK about the electoral reform between the two coalitions has just started to hot up, with Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister...