First Past The Post (Simple Plurality) 

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  • First Past The Post (Simple Plurality)
    • Used for General Elections
    • Variant - Block vote in which constituencies elect more than 1 candidate used in local elections in England + Wales
    • Features
      • plurality of votes to win (one more than second placed  candidate)
      • Victorious candidate may win with a relatively low share of the vote (no absolute majority needed)
        • e.g. 2010 General Election result in Hampstead and Kilburn - 3 way marginal seat won by Labour candidate Glenda Jackson with under 1/3 of votes casts (only 42 votes more than conservative)
      • Single vote - (X) on ballot paper
        • single candidate elected from each constituency
      • single member constituencies (650 for general election)
        • Constituencies roughly equal size - boundaries determined by independent boundary commissions
    • Implications
      • tends to foster a two-party system
        • favors major parties with strong nationwide support
          • giving them a good chance of securing a parliamentary majority
            • since 1979 Labour or Conservatives have been in Government
        • disadvantages smaller parties with thinly spread support - difficult to win seats
          • Little incentive for a faction within one of the main parties to break away and form a new party
        • Evaluation: support for main two parties fell to 65% of electorate in 2010 as Lib Dems won 23% and smaller parties combined vote share of 12%
          • FPTP acts a a life support machine for 2 party system and disguises the advance of multi-party politics
            • Lib Dems entered government as part of a coalition in 2010
      • landslide Effect
        • tends to exaggerate performance of most popular party
          • producing a landslide effect
            • Relatively small lead over 2nd placed party often translated into a substantial lead in seats
        • e.g. Conservatives in 1983 won a 144 seat majority, up from 43 seats in 1979, despite the fact that conservative support fell by 1.5%
        • 2005 - Labour 35% of votes, 355 seats Conservatives - 32% of votes, 197 seats
      • Single-party Governments with working parliamentary majorites
        • only the Feb 1974 and 2010 General Elections did not deliver a majority of seats from one party
      • Disproportionality - see disadvantages
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