Electoral system analysis

  • Created by: Lilydavis
  • Created on: 06-05-19 18:11

The impact on the type of government appointed

  • Minority governments and coalition governments are the norm in the devolved assemblies but the exception at Westminster.
  • Only one of the devolved elections - the 2011 Scottish parliament elections, delivered an outright winner.
  • FPTP is becoming less likely to deliver a majority government with the 2010 election leading to a coalition and the 2017 election producing a minority government.
  • Only one of the last three general elections produced a majority government (2015).
  • Had STV or the closed list system been used, the Conservatives would have fallen short of a majority and UKIP would have been their most likely coalition partner.
  • In 2017, they would have given Labour a better prospect of forming a minority government.
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The impact on party representation

  • Elections to the devolved assemblies and european parliament better reflect the development of multiparty politics across the UK.
  • The SNP has been in power in Scotland since 2007 and parties such as UKIP and Green are better represented as their number of seats reflect their share of the vote.
  • However, until 2017 the UK's two party system was failing in health.
  • By 2010, the 'effective number of electoral parties' rose to almost 4.
  • FPTP acted as a life support machine for the two party system, holding back but not halting the advance of multiparty politics.
  • The 2015 general election was one of the most disproporionate in the postwar period - the conservatives won a majority of seats with only 38% of the vote, UKIP won a single seat despite winning almost 13% of the vote, and the SNP won 95% of Scottish seats with 50% of the vote in Scotland.
  • Elections conducted under STV and AMS are more proportional than general election but they also produce results that reward larger parties and penalise smaller ones.
  • The outcome of the 2016 Welsh Assembly election was notable disproportional, the large number of constituency seats won by Labour by FPTP could not be corrected fully by the distribution of the smaller number of regional list seats.
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The impact on voter choice

  • Voters have greater choice under AMS, SV and STV than under FPTP.
  • They allow for split ticket voting which has allowed voting behaviour to become more sophisticated as electors recognise that a vote for a minor party is less likely to be wasted.
  • In return, smaller parties gain a higher profile and, having become accustomed to voting for a smaller party, electors are more likely to vote for one in general elections.
  • Evidence from other countries shows that turnout in general elections conducted under PR is higher than where FPTP is used.
  • Turnout in elections to the devolved institutions in the UK and EP has been significantly lower than the general elections, but turnout at general elections has declined since the early 1990s.
  • AMS, SV and STV give voters greater choice but some have found the different electoral systems complex and difficult to understand.
  • The design of ballot papers were changed after the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, when 146,000 ballots were completed incorreclty.
  • At the 206 London Mayoral Election, 382,000 electors did not use their second preference vote 220,000 cast it for the same candidate. Another 1.5 million were not for the top two candidates so did not affect the result.
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