5 participation


Published on

Published in: News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

5 participation

  1. 1. Participation in Scottish Politics What you will learn - The ways in which people can participate in Scottish politics. Voting in elections One of the most obvious ways people can participate in Scottish politics is by voting. This is usually at election time when the whole country is given the opportunity to choose who they want to represent them and become their MSPs or their local councillors. Elections to the Scottish Parliament and to local councils take place every four or five years. Election day To be eligible to vote your name must be on the Electoral Register – a form is sent out to all households every year asking who lives there. You will receive a polling card through the post which tells you where to vote and when. Voting hours are from 7a.m. to 10 p.m. You can apply for a postal vote if you are not able to attend the polling station. At the polling station, usually a primary school or council building, you will be given a ballot paper after your details have been checked. You will go into the polling booth and vote. (For a local government or Scottish Parliament election, this is a complicated procedure - more on this later.) Ballot boxes are collected and taken to a central point for the ballot papers to be counted. Fact file - Voting procedure Who is not allowed to vote? - Those who are under 18 (however the voting age has being lowered to 16 for the independence referendum) - Members of the Royal family - Individuals who have been declared bankrupt - Prisoners (however the European Court of Human Rights has requested that UK prisoners be allowed to vote). 1
  2. 2. Should the voting age be reduced to 16? The Electoral Reform Society and the think tank Demos favour the reduction of the voting age to 16. Demos claims that one million people aged 16-17 are denied the vote because of outdated attitudes. This group of citizens can get married, raise a family, pay their taxes and fight and die for their country, yet cannot vote. Others argue that 16 and 17 year olds lack maturity and life experience, and if they are given the vote this will only decrease still further the low percentage turnout of young people. The Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the SNP support lowering the voting age. Views of students of St.Ninian’s High School, Kirkintilloch “I think the voting age should be reduced from 18 to 16 years old. There are many things you can do at the age of 16 but voting isn’t one of them. You can get married, join the army etc. What the Government is literally saying is that you can go and die for your country but you are not allowed to vote. It doesn’t make sense. If the age is lowered to 16, young people will be interested in voting. I think I am mature and intelligent enough to make an informed decision. It’s our country, our land and I should have a say.” Andrew Finlayson aged 15 “Even though I believe 16-year-olds should have some control over their own future as they contribute to society, I do not agree that they should be able to vote. I believe there is apathy among young voters – already 18-24 year-olds have the lowest turnout. 16-year-olds are likely to follow suit and note vote, therefore it would be a waste of money. I think parents of 16-year-olds should vote on behalf of their children.” Lisa Flaherty aged 16. Activities. 1. Explain why not everyone over the age of 18 is allowed to vote. 2. Outline the arguments for and against lowering the voting age to 16. 2
  3. 3. Voting in by-elections In between elections to the Scottish Parliament, it is sometimes it is necessary to hold a byelection - this is an election in a constituency where a seat becomes vacant and must be filled before the next election. For example, in March 2006 the seat for the constituency of Moray became vacant when the MSP Margaret Ewing died. A by-election was held in which the voters of Moray chose Richard Lochhead of the SNP. Voting in referendums As well as voting for representatives, Scottish people can also participate in Scottish politics by voting in referendums. In the 2014 independence referendum, Scottish people, including 16 year olds, will have the opportunity to vote in the referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future. It is very important to participate and vote in this election. Joining a political party Voting isn’t the only way people can participate in politics in Scotland. People who support a political party can get actively involved with that party by joining as a party member. How do you become a member of a political party? Becoming a member of a political party is easy. Anyone can become a member of a political party. Many people feel a connection to a political party’s beliefs and join by paying an annual membership fee or a donation. They can then attend local party meetings, discuss issues on the party blog websites and even attend the national conferences. Participating in election campaigns People can participate in Scottish politics by participating in election campaigns. They campaign trying to convince constituents to vote for their party’s candidate. This campaigning may involve putting up posters, canvassing or even trying to drum up support on social media websites like Twitter or Facebook. Becoming a candidate in an election In working hard for your political party you may decide that you want to stand as a candidate for election yourself. First you would need to be elected by the local party members and then, once chosen as a party candidate, you would compete against candidates from other parties and then, once chosen as a party candidate, you would compete against candidates from other parties and independent candidates. You could stand to be elected as a local councillor or as an MSP. 3
  4. 4. Sending/signing a petition People can participate in politics in Scotland by sending or signing a petition. A petition is a request for action which sets out what an individual or community group, want the Parliament to do and why. Creating a petition is simple and the process is designed to be open and accessible to all. A petition only needs one signature and there is age restriction on sending a petition. During the first two sessions of Parliament (1999 - 2007), 1048 petitions were submitted to the Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee. Many petitions were sent by schools. Each petition the Parliament receives must be looked at by the Public Petitions Committee and the petitioner must be informed about what happens to their petition i.e. if it is within the powers of the Parliament to make a decision on, if a law already exists, or if a new law should be introduced. Petitions do make a difference and some have led to changes in the law or of policy Steps to creating a petition Decide what you want to petition about: Is the issue you want to raise within the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament? Is it a national issue or might it be more local? Have you attempted to resolve the issue perhaps with your MSP or council? Create your petition: The most convenient way to submit your petition is via the online form which will allow you to enter your petition text, save, edit, amend, etc. and then send it to the clerking team. Put your petition online: You can collect signatures online which opens your petition to a worldwide audience. There is a discussion forum which allows people to discuss the issue you raise. Promote your petition: You can link your petition to your own website, social networking site, video etc. You can even create your own petition web address. Have it discussed: The Public Petitions Committee has 7 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and its role is to consider and discuss each petition lodged and decide what action to take. At every step you are kept informed by the clerking team of what is happening so that you get the opportunity to contribute. 4
  5. 5. Activities 1. Copy and complete the following table: Method of Participation Describe what this involves Explain how this allows you to have influence Voting Joining a political party Participating in election campaigns Becoming a candidate in an election Sending/signing a petition Exam Style Question Explain in detail, how people can participate in Scotland. (Nat.4 – 4 Marks) (Nat.5 - 8Marks) 5
  6. 6. Section 6 - Political parties in Scotland What you will learn - What political parties are - Who the main political parties in Scotland are - The differences between the main political parties in Scotland What is a political party? A political party is an organisation made up of people who share similar political beliefs and opinions. A political party ultimately aims to get elected by winning as many seats as possible in Parliament. The more seats that a political party wins, the more influence it can exert over the running of the country. In Scotland there are four main political parties. Three of these parties mirror the three main parties active across the UK: Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. The fourth party is the Scottish National Party (SNP). There are also numerous smaller parties in Scotland such as the Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party. There are 129 available seats for the Scottish Parliament. In 2011, the SNP won 69 of the seats, creating the first majority government in Scottish Parliament history. Therefore the SNP currently holds political power in Scotland. The leader of the party that holds political power is called the First Minister. Political parties continuously try to win support among the general public so that when an election comes round they have a good chance of achieving votes. This can be very expensive and this is one reason why most MSPs are members of a political party rather than independents. It is very important to political parties that they have a positive public image and a likeable party leader. If the public do not like a party leader, support for the party will drop. In 2011, the Scottish Labour Party suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of the SNP. Many people attributed this loss to the party leader, Iain Gray, whose public image was less than favourable. Political party SNP Labour Conservative Liberal Democrat Green Independent Total Constituencies/regions (seats) 69 37 15 5 2 1 129 6 Scottish Parliament election results 2011
  7. 7. What are the differences between the political parties? Political parties have their own visions and plans for how they think the country should be run. These plans can be listed under key policy areas such as education, environment, justice, economy and health. Before an election, each political party publishes a document outlining its policies, known as a party manifesto. Each party’s manifesto is unique, and one party’s vision and plans can differ quite remarkably from another’s. The Fact file on each political party tells you a little about each party and some of the policies it believes will make Scotland a better country. The Scottish National Party The SNP’s popularity in Scotland has increased considerably in the last decade. In Alex Salmond it has a leader who has guided the party to its most successful spell in its history. The party has campaigned for Scottish independence for seven decades and is currently running the ‘Yes’ campaign in preparation for the 2014 independence referendum. The SNP holds power in Scotland and it also holds six seats in Westminster. Generally speaking, the SNP is supported by all factions and classes of Scottish society. However, as the SNP prepares for the referendum, party leaders are reviewing their policy towards NATO, the military alliance of USA and European countries. 7 Key policies - Continue to campaign for Scottish independence. - Will not introduce tuition fees or top-up fees for colleges or universities. - Make Scotland a world leader in green energy. - Introduce a minimum pricing for alcohol. - No more nuclear – oppose nuclear weapons
  8. 8. The Labour Party The Labour Party, known in Scotland as Scottish Labour, is led by Johann Lamont. Labour has traditionally been a popular party in Scotland with strong support, especially among the working class. However, in 2007, Labour lost control of the Scottish Parliament, and the Party performed even worse in the 2011 Scottish election, winning only 37 seats. The party has strong links to trade unions, who influence many of their policies. Key policies - Keep Scotland part of the UK. - Introduce fees of some sort for university students, arguing that places are lost to paying foreign students. - Prioritise the creation of green jobs, aiming for up to 60,000 by 2015. - Protect NHS jobs, with no compulsory redundancies for NSH staff. - Offer a modern apprenticeship to every 16-18 year-old who wants one from 2013. The Conservative Party The Scottish Conservatives are led by Ruth Davidson and the UK party is led by Prime Minister David Cameron. In the 2010 UK election the Conservatives managed to win enough seats to enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. However, in Scotland the Scottish Conservatives have not been so successful and they only won 15 seats in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election. The Conservatives struggle in Scotland and have limited support among the Scottish people. This is mainly because of the unpopular Conservative government of the 1980’s led by Margaret Thatcher. The support the Conservatives do have in Scotland generally comes from the middle and upper classes. 8 Key policies - Keep Scotland as part of the UK. - Give head teachers more power over discipline policy, staff recruitment and budgets. - Introduce tougher jail sentences and end automatic early release from prison. - Introduce free, universal health checks for those aged between 40 and 74. - End Scottish government policy against nuclear power – consider new stations.
  9. 9. The Liberal Democrat Party The Scottish Liberal Democrats are now one of the three state parties within the federal Liberal Democrats; the others being the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrats in England. The Scottish Liberal Democrats hold 5 out of 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament, 11 of the 59 Scottish seats in the UK Parliament, 1 of 6 Scottish seats in the European Parliament. They are led by Willie Rennie MSP who shot to prominence in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election in 2006, taking the seat from Labour with a swing on 16%. Key policies - Keep Scotland as part of the UK but plan for more powers for the Scottish Parliament including significant control over tax levers. - Keep education free, with no tuition fees and no graduate contribution. Protect college funding. - Support early intervention work, especially in education with free childcare for 40% of 2 year olds which would help children from the most deprived background get the best start in life. - Support sustainable transport and focus on getting faster and cheaper trains to all parts of Scotland. Activities 1. What is a political party? 2. Name the four main political parties in Scotland and name their leaders. 3. Which party is in power in Scotland? 4. Why is it important that a party has a likeable leader? 5. What is a party manifesto? 6. Study the Scottish political party fact files. b. Do any parties have similar policies? If so, name them. c. How many seats did each party win in the 2011 Scottish election? 9
  10. 10. Section 7 - Electoral systems What you will learn - What is an electoral system The nature of the UK electoral system The electoral systems used in Scottish elections Advantages and disadvantages of electoral systems What is an electoral system? An electoral system is the method by which you count the votes and decide how many representatives each party wins. Different electoral systems can result in very different election outcomes. For example if you used a different system you may even end with a completely different government. In order to understand the Scottish electoral systems, we must first look at the UK electoral system used to elect MPs. First Past The Post The electoral system used in the UK to elect MPs is known as First Past The Post (FPTP) How does FPTP work? Under First Past The Post (FPTP) voting takes place in single-member constituencies of which there are 650 in the UK. Although constituencies vary widely in area, the average number of voters in each constituency is approximately 68,175. In each constituency, voters put a cross in a box next to their favoured candidate and the candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins a seat in the House of Commons. Only a simple majority is needed to win the seat. The party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons forms a government. Elections to the UK Parliament Paisley and Renfrewshire South Vote for one candidate only (X) Douglas Alexander (Labour Party) Andy Doig (Scottish National Party) Gordon McCaskill (Conservative Party) Ashay Ghai (Liberal Democrat) Paul Mack (Independent) Example FPTP ballot paper for Paisley and Renfrewshire South 10
  11. 11. Usually the party who wins the most seats has more than half of the seats and can form a strong government. This is because the party has more seats than all the other parties put together. We call this an overall majority. Sometimes, however, the votes can be spread in such a way that no one party has more than half of the seats. This is called a ‘hung parliament’. In these circumstances either one party will form a ‘minority government’ or two parties may join together to form a ‘coalition government’ as is the case with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats just now when the Conservative party failed to win more half of the seats in the House of Commons to form a strong government. Constituency A Labour 21,200 votes Conservative 21,199 votes Liberal Democrat 8,656 votes SNP 3,821 votes 2010 UK General election results B Constituency B Labour 30,000 votes Conservative 10,226 votes Liberal Democrat 4,333 votes SNP 3,266 votes Full UK Scoreboard Seats Votes % Conservative 307 10,726,214 36.1 Labour 258 8,609,527 29 Liberal Democrat 57 6,836,824 23 Democratic Unionist 8 168,216 0.6 SNP 6 491,386 1.7 Sinn Fein 5 171,942 0.6 Plaid Cymru 3 165,394 0.6 Green 1 285,616 1 UK Independence 0 919,546 3.1 Party Party 11
  12. 12. Arguments for and against FPTP There are many arguments for and against FPTP. Arguments for FPTP Arguments against FPTP It's simple to understand and thus doesn't cost much to administer and doesn't alienate people who can't count. Representatives can get elected on tiny amounts of public support as it does not matter by how much they win, only that they get more votes than other candidates. It encourages tactical voting, as voters vote not for the candidate they most prefer, but against the candidate they most dislike. FPTP in effect wastes huge numbers of votes, as votes cast in a constituency for losing candidates, or for the winning candidate above the level they need to win that seat, count for nothing. FPTP severely restricts voter choice. Parties are coalitions of many different viewpoints. If the preferred-party candidate in your constituency has views with which you don't agree, you don't have a means of saying so at the ballot box. It doesn't take very long to count all the votes and work out who's won, meaning results can be declared a handful of hours after polls close. It can discourage extremist parties as it is very hard for them to be elected, even if they do achieve a sizeable number of votes. It tends to produce a two-party system which in turn tends to produce single-party governments, which don't have to rely on support from other parties to pass legislation. Usually one party gains a clear majority It is very unfair on smaller parties as the therefore a strong government is formed results do not always reflect closely the that can get things done. number of votes a party received. Activities 1. Describe how the First Past the Post voting system operates. 2. Draw 2 spider diagrams showing the arguments for and against FPTP. 3. What parties do you think benefit most from FPTP? 4. Which parties do you think find FPTP very unfair? Exam Style Question Explain in detail, the arguments for and against FPTP. (Nat.4 – 4 Marks) (Nat.5 - 8Marks) 12
  13. 13. Scottish Electoral System The voting systems used in Scotland to elect MSPs and local councillors are different from that used to elect MPs. The voting system used for Scottish Parliament elections is called the Additional Members System (AMS) and for local councils it is called the Single Transferable Vote (STV). Both are forms of Proportional Representation (PR). In PR systems there is a greater link between votes received and votes won. Additional Member System (AMS) AMS is a hybrid voting system used to elect the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly since 1999, as well as the London Assembly. How does AMS work? AMS combines elements of First Past the Post where voters mark an X next to the candidate they want to represent them in their constituency, and proportional representation, where voters select from a list of candidates for each party who represent a larger regional constituency. This helps to overcome the disproportionally often associated with First Past The Post elections. Under AMS, each voter typically gets two votes – one for a candidate and one for a party. The first vote is to elect 73 constituency MSPs in the local constituency elections using FPTP. The second vote is to elect the 56 regional MSPs, in a multi-member constituency, choosing between parties. Elections of the Scottish Parliament You have two votes Constituency members Vote once only Regional members (X) (X) A candidate A party B party B candidate C party C candidate D party D candidate E party E candidate F party 13 Vote once only
  14. 14. Overall, the Additional Member System creates eight Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to represent every person in Scotland: one constituency MSP and seven regional MSPs. The eight regions of Scotland MSPs. Each region elects 7. Fact file – Additional Member System Constituency Regional This vote is for a Constituency This vote is for Regional representatives representative. Scotland is divided up into 73 electoral areas, Scotland is divided into 8 electoral areas known as constituencies. known as regions. The electorate is given the choice of Each Party has a list of prospective different people, most of whom belong to a candidates. political party, to vote for to be their constituency representative. The person with the most votes in each A particular mathematical formula is used constituency wins and becomes the MSP for to allocate additional members from the that constituency. various parties, based on the number of votes each party receives. They are First Past the Post winners. This system is used so that the percentage of votes a party receives in the Election is about the same as the percentage of seats they win in the Scottish Parliament. 14
  15. 15. Case Study: Glasgow Anniesland 2011 election The constituency vote was to elect the person who would represent the constituency of Glasgow Anniesland. The results in that election were as follows. Candidate name Party Votes Cast Bill Butler Scottish Labour 10,322 Bill Kidd Scottish National Party 10,329 Marc Livingston Communist party of Britain 256 Paul McGarry Scottish Liberal Democrats 1,000 Matthew Taylor Smith Scottish Conservative 2,011 Bill Kidd (SNP) won more votes than any other candidate (FPTP) in the constituency and therefore was elected as the constituency MSP for Glasgow Anniesland. The regional vote was for a political party and was counted from all the votes in the region of Glasgow using a mathematical formula that means the total number of seats a party receives in the election more accurately reflects the percentage of votes the party has received. Each party provides a list of individuals numbered 1-7 before the election and if a party receives 3 MSPs through the regional vote then numbers 1-3 on the list will be elected as MSPs. Party No. of seats won Regional MSP’.s Labour 3 Hanzala Malik Drew Smith Anne McTaggart Green 1 Patrick Harvie Conservative 1 Ruth Davidson Scottish National Party 2 Humza Yousaf Bob Doras Region of Glasgow - Regional vote result Following the 2011 election result, the constituents of Anniesland are represented by the Bill Kidd (constituency MSP) and, Hanzala Malik; Drew Smith; Anne McTaggart; Patrick Harvie; Ruth Davidson; Humza Yousaf and Bob Doras. (Regional MSPs) 15
  16. 16. The impact of AMS A fairer result There is no doubt that AMS increases proportionality by reducing the gaps between share of votes and share of seats. In sharp contrast, in the 2010 general election, the First Past The Post system awarded Labour almost 70% of Scottish seats in the House of Commons with only 42% of the vote. Coalition government or minority party government In 1999 and 2003 Labour formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. In the 2007 election the SNP overtook Labour as the strongest party in the Scottish Parliament, but only by a single seat. The SNP formed a minority government and had to depend on other parties supporting their policies for the respective bills to be passed in Parliament. Small parties encouraged and sometimes rewarded In 2003 the Greens and the Scottish Social Party (SSP) won 13 out of 56 seats in the second ballot. The presence of Green and SSP MSPs in the Scottish Parliament would not have been achieved under First Past The Post. However, in the 2007 and 2011 elections only the Greens, with two MSPs, represented the small parties. Greater voter choice There has been a large increase in the number of parties and individual candidates competing for seats in the second ballot. More than 20 parties participated in the 2011 elections. The impact of AMS in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election The 2011 election was a triumph for the SNP who achieved a landslide victory that gave them an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament and an end to either coalition or minority government. Labour, who had maintained their dominance in the 2010 General election, suffered a collapse in their support and number of MSPs. Labour lost 9 seats while the SNP gained 22. Party SNP +/- Lab +/- Cons +/- Lib +/- 0ther +/ -11 3 - Dems Total 69 +22 37 -9 15 -2 5 Scottish Parliament election results, May 2011 However, the biggest losers were the Liberal Democrats. Scottish voters were unhappy that the Liberal Democrats had joined up with the Conservatives to form a coalition government after the 2010 general election. The Liberal Democrats were punished and lost 11 of their 16 seats. 16
  17. 17. Party Seats +/- Votes % +/-% SNP 53 +32 902,915 45.4 +12.5 Labour 15 -20 630,461 31.7 -0.5 Conservative 3 -3 276,652 13.9 -2.7 Liberal 2 -9 157,714 7.9 -8.2 0 0 21,480 1.1 -1.1 Democrat Other Scottish Parliament election May 2011, constituency results Party Seats +/- Votes % +/-% SNP 16 -9 876,421 44.0 +13 Labour 22 -13 523,559 26.3 -2.9 Conservative 12 -2 245,967 12.4 -1.6 Liberal 3 -3 103,472 5.2 -6.1 -1 241,632 12.1 -2.5 Democrat Labour Scottish Parliament election May 2011, regional list results Political party Constituency Regional Total MSPs % of % of MSPs MSPs votes seats Conservative 3 12 15 13.15 11.6 Green 0 2 2 2.2 1.6 Labour 15 22 37 29 28.7 Liberal Democrats 2 3 5 6.55 3.9 Scottish National 53 16 69 44.7 53.5 Party Scottish Parliamentary Election results 2011 The last shows that the percentage of votes is closely related to the percentage of seats each party received. This is because of the formula that is used to ensure that the number of seats for parties in the Scottish Parliament is roughly proportional to the number of votes they won. A party that has a clear lead in the constituency election will do less well in the regional list election. For example, Table 7.15 shows that the SNP won 53 constituency seats but only 16 regional seats. The table also shows that the SNP won a majority of seats in the Parliament. This is the first time a single party has held a majority. 17
  18. 18. Arguments for and against AMS There are many arguments for and against the Additional Member System. Arguments for AMS Arguments against AMS It is fairer because it produces a close correlation between shares of votes and shares of seats. In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the Conservatives won about 13% of the votes and about 12% of the seats. It gives minor parties more parliamentary representation. In the 2003 election, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Green Party, the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party and the Independents were all represented. It can create a government in which a minority party can implement its policies. The Liberal Democrats finished fourth in the 2003 Scottish election, yet formed a government with Labour. It reduces the number of wasted votes and so encourages greater turnout. Each voter has a directly accountable single constituency representative. Every voter has at least one effective vote. 18 It can lead to an unstable and weak government. The minority SNP weak government of 2007-2007 found it difficult to implement its policies. It failed for example to implement its policy of minimum pricing of alcohol in November 2010. It creates conflict between the constituency MSP and the seven list MSPs. There is clear rivalry between the two classes of MSPs. MSPs elected via the regional lists have been seen as having 'got in via the backdoor' or as 'assisted place' or 'second class' members. It can be complicated with people getting confused over exactly what they are supposed to do with their two votes. Many representatives are accountable to the party leadership rather than the voters.
  19. 19. Activities 1. Describe the AMS electoral system. 2. Under AMS, each voter typically gets two votes. Describe the differences between these votes. 3. How many MSPs is each constituent in Scotland represented by? 4. How is the regional vote calculated? How are regional MSPs chosen? 4. Describe the impact of AMS in Scotland? 5. Why was the 2011 election was a triumph for the SNP? Exam Style Question Explain in detail, the arguments for and against AMS. (Nat.4 – 4 Marks) (Nat.5 - 8Marks) The Single Transferable Vote (STV) This PR system was used in the Scottish local government elections for the first time in May 2007. It is also used in Northern Ireland for elections to both the Northern Ireland Assembly and the European Parliament. How does STV work? The Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a form of proportional representation which uses preferential voting in multi-member constituencies. Candidates don't need a majority of votes to be elected, just a known 'quota', or share of the votes, determined by the size of the electorate and the number of positions to be filled. Each voter gets one vote, which can transfer from their first-preference to their secondpreference, so if a voters preferred candidate has no chance of being elected or has enough votes already, their vote is transferred to another candidate. STV thus ensures that very few votes are wasted, unlike other systems, especially First Past the Post, where only a small number of votes actually contribute to the result. 19
  20. 20. The main features of STV Representatives are chosen from multi-member constituencies In a five-member local government constituency (ward), voters rank their preferences among the total number of candidates standing, using the numbers 1 to 5. Often the number of candidates will be in double figures. Electors can vote for as many or as few candidates as they like. A complicated quote system is used to calculate the minimum number of votes required to win one of the seats to be filled. Local council elections Rank candidates in order of preference ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ etc Candidate Number Candidate A 5 Candidate B 3 Candidate C 1 Candidate D 4 Candidate E 2 Example STV ballot paper The impact of STV in Scotland The Local Government Elections 2007 and 2012 The introduction of the STV system in 2007 to replace FPTP has led to a fairer distribution of seats among the parties but it has also led to far fewer councils being controlled by one party. This results in a significant number of councils having coalition administrations. Labour dominance of local government has ended: in 2003, Labour had 509 councillors and overall control of 13 councils; SNP had 181 councillors and overall control of one council. In contrast, in the 2007 elections using STV, SNP gained the most councillors having 363 but control of no council, and Labour dropped to 348 councillors and control of two councils. It was decided that elections for the Scottish Parliament and local councils would not take place at the same time. For this reason, council elections were delayed until 2012. Both the SNP and Labour claimed they were the winners in the 2012 council elections. The SNP could argue they had the most seats and the largest increase in councillors. Labour could argue they controlled the most councils, including Glasgow, which the SNP had hoped to win. What 20
  21. 21. was clear was that the Liberal Democrats did badly – they lost 95 seats and suffered the humiliation of an Independent candidate dressed as a penguin receiving more votes than the Liberal Democrat candidate in Edinburgh’s Pentland Hills ward – they came fourth behind ‘the penguin’ Professor Pongoo, a climate activist. Party Number of councillors Net gain/loss compared with 2003 elections Scottish National Party 363 +182 Scottish Labour 348 -161 Scottish Liberal Democrats 166 -9 Scottish Conservative 143 +20 Scottish Green 8 +8 2007 local council election results Party Number of councillors Net gain/loss compared with 2007 elections Scottish National Party 425 +62 Scottish Labour 394 +46 Scottish Liberal Democrats 71 -95 Scottish Conservative 115 -28 Scottish Green 14 +6 2012 local council election results Party 2003 (FPTP) 2007 (STV) 2012 (STV) Labour 13 2 4 SNP 1 0 2 Independents 6 3 4 Total councils 20 5 10 Councils controlled by Labour, SNP, Independents 21
  22. 22. Arguments for and against STV There are many arguments for and against STV. Arguments for STV Arguments against STV STV gives voters more choice than any The process of counting the results takes longer under STV, meaning that results cannot usually be declared on the same night as the vote took place. other system. This in turn puts most power in the hands of the voters, rather than the party heads, who under other systems can more easily determine who is elected. Fewer votes are 'wasted' (i.e. cast for losing candidates or unnecessarily cast for the winner) under STV. This means that In large multi-member constituencies, ballot papers can get rather big and confusing. most voters can identity a representative that they personally helped to elect. Such a link in turn increases a representative's accountability Under STV, as opposed to hybrid systems such as AMS, all MPs are elected on the same basis, thus lessening the chances of there being animosity between them. A voting system that allows voters to rank candidates is prone to so-called 'Donkey voting', where voters vote for candidates in the order they appear on the ballot. Activities 1. Describe the main features of STV. 2. Outline the impact of the introduction of STV on the Scottish local council elections of 2007. Exam Style Question Explain in detail, the arguments for and against STV. (Nat.4 – 4 Marks) (Nat.5 - 8Marks) 22
  23. 23. Section.8 Pressure Groups Use your S3 Pressure Groups Notes to complete the following revision questions at the appropriate level. Nat.4 1) Describe 2 methods used by pressure groups to influence the government. (4 Marks) 2) Describe 2 non-violent direct action methods used by pressure groups to influence the government. (4 Marks) 3) Explain 2 reasons why some pressure groups decide to use direct action methods to influence the government. (4 Marks) 4) Describe 2 violent direct action methods used by pressure groups to get attention for their campaign. (4 Marks) 5) Describe ONE right and ONE responsibility of pressure groups in the UK. (4 Marks) Nat.5 1) Describe the methods used by pressure groups to influence the government. (8 Marks) 2) Describe the non-violent direct action methods used by pressure groups to influence the government. (6 Marks) 3) Explain the reasons why some pressure groups turn to direct action methods. (6 Marks) 4) Describe the arguments for and against the use of direct action. (8 Marks) 5) Describe the rights and responsibilities of pressure groups in the UK. (8 Marks) 23