Elections and Voting January 2012

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  • Elections and Voting January 2012
    • a) Outline the workings of the party list electoral system
      • Is a system of proportional representation
      • The system requires voters to choose a political party and usually not an indivudal candidates
      • Seats are allocated to reflect the percentage vote a party receives
      • Lists can be open or closed and regional or national
      • Specific examples of the workings of list systems can be used such as the UK European elections and elsewhere
    • b) Explain three criticisms of the first past the post electoral system
      • It favours the main two largest parties e.g. Labour and Conservatives
      • By contrast it unfairly discriminates against smaller parties who may have widespread support but not concentrated numbers
      • It creates electoral desrts and safe seats where voters may feel that their vote is worthless. This may disengage voters and lead to declining turnout
      • It leads to certain voters having to vote tactically instead of their first choice
    • c) Make out a case in favour of retaining the first past the post electoral system for the House of Commons
      • It is a tried and tested system allowing strong governments to form. This means that a new government can carry out its manifesto pledges and have a secure term in office to see these changes implemented
      • It provides clear lines of accountablity both at a constituency level but also a national or governmental level. This means that MP's can have their post confirmed if they perform a good job. Similarly governments can have their terms renewed if the public are content
      • If the public are unhappy the governmnt can be thrown out as were the Conservatives in 1997 and Labour in 2010
      • It is prized for its simplicity and speed. The public understand its operation and confusion that arises during voting and the distribution afterwards with some systems is problematic
      • The public are in the main content with the first past the post as seen in the results of the AV referendum. Other political issues are of more pressuring nature than voting reform such as the economy
      • Turnout has fallen but so has turnout where other voting systems are used hence it is not a voting system issue which explains falling turnout
      • First past the post is less likely to lead to coalitions which some consider to be weak and unstable


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