Electoral Systems

A set of revision cards with basic information on the UK electoral system! They include names of each system, where the system is used, how it works, the advantages and also disadvantages of the system!

Hope they help! :D 

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First Past The Post (FPTP)

  • Used for Westminster elections (General Elections).
  • Single plurality system, the candidate with the most votes in each constituency wins.
  • Each voter has only 1 vote.

Advantages:

  • Provides strong stable governments. E.g Tony Blair's large majority governments.
  • Provides link between MPs and constituents. E.g Dan Byles is MP for Warwickshire North.
  • Allows mandate democracy to operate. E.g most people voted either Conservative or Lib Dem.
  • Keeps out extremist groups. E.g the BNP are unable to gain seats in General Elections.

Disadvantages:

  • Unrepresentative - poor seats to votes ratio. E.g Lib Dems get poor return of seats for their votes.
  • Candidates do not need 50% of vote to get elected. E.g fewer than 1/3 of MPs get over 50% over the vote.
  • Governments unfairly claim legitimacy when they in fact only usually have 1/3 of the vote. E.g Labour only need 35% of the vote to form a majority.
  • Lots of safe seats. E.g the election is usually won and lost on around 20% of the seats.
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Closed Party List (CPL)

  • Used in the European Parliament elections.
  • Parties rank candidates in order of preference.
  • The UK is split up into regions.
  • Parties receive a seat for every certain % of the vote they recieve (this varies in each region). This is known as a quota.
  • Voters have only 1 vote and vote for a party, not a candidate.

Advantages:

  • Votes per seat ratio is much fairer. 
  • Fairer to smaller parties. E.g UKIP enjoy success in EU elections.
  • Good at representing women & minorities.

Disadvantages:

  • Places power into the hands of successful parties in choosing what candidates are to be elected.
  • Denies the voters a choice of candidates.
  • More likely to produce coalitions.
  • No link between MPs and constituents.
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Additional Member System (AMS)

  • Used in Scottish and Welsh Assembly elections.
  • Voters have 2 votes.
  • 1 vote is for the constituency representative and the other vote is for the party list which serves to add additional members to elected bodies.

Advantages:

  • Produces fairly proportional results.
  • Fairer to small parties.
  • Retains the MP-Constituency link.
  • Good at representing women & minorities.

Disadvantages:

  • Top-up members may be seen as 'second-class' representatives.
  • Not as proportional as CPL and STV.
  • Makes coalitions more likely.
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Single Transferable Vote (STV)

  • Used in Northern Ireland Assembly elections and Scottish Local Government elections.
  • A preferential candidate-centered PR electoral system used in multimember districts.
  • Candidates who surpass a specified quota of first-preference votes are immediately elected. In successive counts, votes from eliminated candidates and surplus votes from elected candidates are reallocated to the remaining candidates until all the seats are filled.

Advantages:

  • Good connection between votes and seats.
  • Fairer to small parties.
  • Allows voter to choose amongst candidates.
  • Good at representing women and minority groups.

Disadvantages:

  • Complex system that takes longer to achieve a result.
  • Makes coalitions more likely.
  • No close link between MP and constituency.
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Supplementary Vote (SV)

  • Used in Mayor of London elections.
  • Each voter selects 2 candidates in order of preference.
  • All 1st votes are counted and if one candidate reaches 50% of the vote they win, if not all second votes from those candidates outside the top 2 are distributed until one of the top 2 candidates reaches 50%.

Advantages:

  • Produces majority governments.
  • Maintains constituency link.
  • Avoids weak preferences.

Disadvantages:

  • Not completely proportional.
  • Rewards parties that have concentrated areas of support.
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Alternative Vote (AV)

  • Used by majoy parties to elect their leaders.
  • Preferntial system where voters rank the candidates in order of preference.

Advantages:

  • A majorities choice as candidates require 50% of the vote.
  • Fewer wasted votes.
  • MPs will have to work harder as they will require 50% of the vote.
  • Maintains constituency link.

Disadvantages:

  • Would not solve the problem of safe seats.
  • AV is not proportional.
  • AV is more complex.
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