Elections - Edexcel AS Unit 1 Government and Politics

Brief overview of the electoral systems.

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How does it work?
Voters vote for their preferences in multi-member constituencies. While an MP does not need a
majority to win, they need to fill out a quota of votes, determined by the size of the constituency.
Voters can then transfer their votes to their preferences as they wish, usually doing so when an MP
meets his quota, or if first choice doesn't stand a chance of winning. Proportional representation is
defined as a system that produces institutions that are representative of the people that have
elected them ­ one that converts votes into seats in a way that reflects both the views and groups of
Gets rid of tactical voting
Keeps the MP-constituency link
Gives voters a wider range of MPs to go to with their concerns
Reduces wasted votes
Can create massive constituencies in sparsely populated areas such as the Scottish Highlands
Takes longer and is more complicated to count the votes
"Donkey voting" whereby voters order their preferences in the order that the ballot paper lists them
Where is it used?
NUS and other student union elections
Republic of Ireland elections
Australian senate
How does it work?
Voters get one vote for an MP and one for the party. Parties must have outright majorities to win so
it often encourages coalitions. AMS combines elements of FPTP with elements of proportional
systems. Each constituency gets one MP in accordance with the votes, and then the number of votes
for the parties are used to "top up" (i.e. fill up) the rest of the seats available in a way that represents
the party votes ­ these are the additional members.
Keeps the MP constituency link
Each voter gets at least one useful vote
Broadly proportional
Having two types of representative can cause confusion, and many might see the additional
members as second-class
"Overhang seats" whereby parties get more seats from the constituency vote than they are entitled
to from the party vote
Many MPs become accountable to party leadership rather than constituents
Where is it used?
Scottish Parliament
Welsh Assembly
The German Bundestag

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How does it work?
Voters put their candidates in order of preference, until they no longer wish to express preference
or complete all of the candidates. A candidate is immediately elected if they get an outright majority
of first preference votes. If no candidate does, then the candidate with the least number of first
preference votes is eliminated, and all of the people that voted for them have their votes
redistributed according to the preferences put down.…read more

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The UK uses a closed list.…read more


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