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Electoral systems


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  • 1. Electoral Systems And how they work
  • 2. Plurality Systems
    • First Past the Post
    • Used in UK general elections.
    • The country is divided into constituencies with a single MP.
    • Each voter has one vote.
    • The candidate with the largest number of votes wins the seat.
    • The party with the most seats forms the government.
  • 3. Advantages
    • Easy for the voter to understand, cheap and inexpensive.
    • Links maintained with constituencies.
    • One party usually wins outright and the government is therefore strong.
    • Parties have a chance to carry out their manifesto promises.
    • It has been proven to work effectively.
  • 4. Disadvantages
    • Parties coming consistently second or third are underrepresented.
    • Winning parties are overrepresented.
    • Winning governments usually only gain 40% of the total vote.
    • Voters in safe seats may not bother to vote.
    • The govt. may have less votes than its nearest rival.
  • 5. Majority Systems
    • (The winning candidate achieves more than 50% of the vote)
    • The Alternative Vote System (AV)
    • Voters rank candidates in order of preference.
    • Any candidate with 50%+ votes is elected.
    • If no-one gets 50%, votes are redistributed
    • This continues until someone wins.
  • 6. Majority Systems (cont.)
    • Supplementary Vote System (SVS)
    • Voters have first and second choice.
    • Candidates with 50%+ of votes are automatically elected.
    • If no-one has 50%, all candidates are eliminated except for the top two.
    • The votes of losing candidates are redistributed to second choices.
  • 7. Majority Systems (cont.)
    • The Second Ballot System
    • If the candidate does not win more than 50% of the vote, a second ballot takes place a week or two later.
    • Sometimes the candidates with the least votes are eliminated.
    • This is used in France where candidates must gain 12.5%+ of the vote to stand in the second ballot.
  • 8. Advantages
    • Second or third parties are more fairly represented.
    • If voters do not get their first choice, they are quite likely to get their second.
    • MPs represent more members of their constituencies.
    • Constituency links are maintained.
    • SVS was recommended by the PLANT report as likely to produce strong govt.
  • 9. Disadvantages
    • Second or third parties can be over represented.
    • AV in particular is complicated for the voters.
    • Very small parties are not represented.
    • Second ballot system takes a long time to produce an outright result.
    • It is more expensive and time consuming.
  • 10. Proportional Systems
    • List System (closed)
    • Voters only vote for a party, not a person.
    • The country is one large constituency.
    • The parties draw up a list of candidates and puts them in order.
    • Seats are allocated to parties according to the proportion of votes won.
    • These seats are then filled from the lists.
  • 11. Proportional Systems (cont.)
    • The List system (open)
    • The country is divided into large regional constituencies.
    • Parties can stand as many candidates as there are seats.
    • Voters choose a number of candidates.
    • Seats are allocated according to the number of votes.
    • The most popular candidates win the seats.
  • 12. Proportional Systems (cont.)
    • The Single transferable vote system
    • The country is divided into large regional constituencies.
    • The parties stand candidates for all the seats.
    • Voters put candidates in preference order.
    • Those who reach the quota are elected.
    • Votes of lowest candidates are transferred
  • 13. Advantages
    • These systems are much fairer.
    • Small parties are given representation.
    • There are less wasted votes.
    • The open list and STV do maintain links with constituencies.
    • The closed list is the most directly proportional.
  • 14. Disadvantages
    • In the closed list system, only the party chooses the candidates.
    • STV and open list are very complicated.
    • The constituencies are much bigger or non existent.
    • There is a much greater chance of a coalitional government.
    • Extremists may get a voice in Parliament.
  • 15. Hybrid Systems
    • Additional Member System (AMS)
    • This is used in Scotland and Wales.
    • Voters vote for a constituency MP using First Past the Post.
    • They also vote for a party.
    • The Closed List System is used to allocate some seats to parties.
    • Parties that do badly with FPTP are compensated in through the PR seats.
  • 16. Hybrid Systems (cont.)
    • AV+
    • This was drawn up by the Jenkins Committee and has never been used.
    • The number of constituencies is reduced to 500.
    • Voters use AV to elect a constituency MP.
    • The also vote for regional MPs using the Open List System.
  • 17. Advantages
    • In AMS, any unfairness of the FPTP election are compensated for with the PR seats.
    • It is fairer but keeps out extremists.
    • You have the advantages of two systems.
    • Large scale coalition is less likely.
    • People may be more likely to vote as this is a fairer system.
  • 18. Disadvantages
    • The systems are more complicated for the voter, particularly AV+.
    • Small parties are still not represented.
    • There is a greater chance of coalition and therefore weaker government.
    • There is no real promise that more people will vote because of this system.