UK Elections and Voting A Level 2018

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  • UK Elections and Voting
    • FPTP: First Past the Post
      • Voters place a cross next to the name of their preferred candidate.
      • No majority of votes is needed to secure a win. Largest number of votes in a constituency is elected.
      • Party with most seats forms government by right. Currently used at Westminster
      • Easy to use
      • Promotes a two-party system, providing a strong/stable government
      • Excludes extreme parties and provides a strong link between MPs and their constituencies
      • Governments can be elected based on less than 50% of the vote. Lack of proportionality, since number of votes doesn't translate to number of seats with any real accuracy.
      • Limits voter choice. Votes hold unequal value, as votes are 'wasted' if used on losing candidates
    • AMS: Additional Member System
      • Used at The Scottish parliament, Welsh Assembly, and the Greater London Assembly (GLA)
      • Two votes. One for the constituency rep, using FPTP. The other for a party list. This uses proportional representation
      • The second vote, 'top-up', acts as a corrective to the first vote under FPTP.
      • Creates a strong link between the member and the constituency
      • Allows for greater choice, can vote for more than one party through this system
      • Closed system is used, so that dissident members of the party are prevented from being elected
      • Smaller parties are still under-represented than under a fully proportional system.
    • STV: Single Transferable Vote
      • Used at The Northern Ireland Assembly, European parliament elections in Northern Ireland, and Scottish council elections
      • Voters number choices by number. Candidates must achieve a quota
      • If no one reaches their quota, the least popular candidate is eliminated, and their votes are transferred over. This process repeats itself until all votes are transferred
      • Close correlation between votes and seats, creating voter choice, and a power-sharing government, between the unionists and nationalists. Votes aren't wasted
      • Not fully proportional, multi-member constituencies create a weak link between voters and members, and power-sharing governments are still prone to conflict
    • SV: Supplementary vote
      • Used for Elections for the London Mayor and other elected mayors, Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales also
      • One vote, allowed a first and second preference. Candidate who achieved over 50% of first preference votes, is elected. If not, then all candidates but top 2 are eliminated, and second preference votes are added up to reach overall winner
      • Broad support for winner ensured (Sadiq Khan - Mayor of London, largest personal mandate in British political history). Simple to use, but not proportional, no absolute majority needed, influence over outcome uncertain, due to difficulty in identifying top 2 candidates
    • Referendums
      • A vote on a particular issue (EU Membership in 2016)
      • Referendums were used to establish bodies in power across the UK. In 1997, they were used to establish the Scottish parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and grant tax varying powers to the Scottish parliament.
      • Referendums were used in maintaining government unity, in response to deals between political parties and in response to pressure to hold a referendum, for instance the UK's membership inside the EU, in or out. They involve the people directly in decision-making, and prevent corruptness. They raise public awareness towards politics, settle arguments and is run by the Electoral Commission since 2000, an independent body
      • Challenges parliamentary sovereignty, popular participation will be low if unclear, governments are the only ones who call a referendum, low turnout has been the norm, and opinions of political parties can affect the outcome of the referendum, even with or without clear relevancy to the referendum's issue.
    • Why are different electoral systems used in the UK?
      • The FTPT system has stayed around due to its widely positively regarded outcomes when used and its simplicity
      • AMS was chosen due to having proportional representation and FPTP together to a degree. It was a compromise for Labour against the other parties when they won their acceptance plan of devolution
      • STV was chosen after the 1998 Good Friday agreement because it is highly proportional. SV was chosen because it was simpler to use than AV
      • Proportional voting systems have forced more coalitions and minority governments, more commonly in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK.This has caused trouble for minority governments in particular, as they need other parties to secure that their legislation moves forward, leading to compromise. These voting systems have also allowed for different policy, such as no tuition fees and free nursing care for the elderly in Scotland
      • Safe seats are not affected by these voting systems, due to a low chance of them being under threat

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