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  • Created on: 15-06-10 15:23
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First Past the post
The Advantages of the System
As far as electoral systems go, the First Past the Post system is relatively simple and
easy for voters to understand. It is also an inexpensive system to run and its simplicity
means that a result can be produced fairly quickly. Since each constituency elects only
one representative, that person is easily identified with a particular area and voters
know who to approach when they have a problem. The First Past the Post system tends
to lead to one party gaining a majority in the House of Commons and so voters know
which party will form the government and so what policies to expect.
The Disadvantages of First Past the Post
The First Past the Post system is a far from perfect electoral system and, in fact, 5
main disadvantages can be identified:
1. Since the winning candidate needs only to secure a simple majority, it is possible that
more people in total may have voted for other candidates than the winner.
2. A party which regularly comes second or third in the constituency votes but that wins
very few outright can find themselves with a very high percentage of the total vote but
relatively few seats.
3. It is theoretically possible that the party which forms the government may actually
have won fewer total votes that their nearest rival.
4. Since there is no uniform number of voters in a constituency, the winner in a small
constituency can have received fewer votes than the runner up in a larger constituency.
5. A number of constituencies are considered `safe' for particular parties. In such cases,
voters who do not support the dominant party may feel that there is no point voting at
It is important to remember that all electoral systems have some disadvantages and in
Britain, where tradition has dictated the use of the First Past the Post system, the
advantages of the current system are thought and estimated to outweigh the
disadvantages. Further, the `Alternative Vote' has, in my opinion, more negative
attributes than positive ones. Firstly, it does very little to give a voice to those who
have been traditionally underrepresented in parliament, and, whilst it does ensure that
the successful candidate is supported by a majority of his or her constituents, it does
not give proportionally to parties or other bodies of opinion. Finally, there is no transfer
of powers from party authority to the voters, and it does not produce a proportional

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