Why do we have elections?
- Political recruitment
- Accountability- citizens can hold gvt to account
- Legitimacy- gvt have mandate
- Essential component of democracy
"The cogs which keep the wheels of democracy turning" - D.Farrell
Majoritarian- one elected candidate per constituency, not proportional, produces clear winner, e.g SV, FPTP.
Proportional- multi-member constituencies, seats in an elected assembly are proportional to a share of votes. E.g Closed List System and STV
Why does the choice of the system matter?
- Shapes political body e.g type of parliament
- Effects party systems e.g 2 party system
- Leads to coalitions
- Reflects voters' wishes
- Indicates swings in public opinion
- Produces strong government
FIRST PAST THE POST (majoritarian)
How it works?
- Country is divided into 650 constituencies
- Number of constituencies and size changes to make equal
- Each constituency elects one MP
- Voters choose from a list of candidates, nearly all of whom have been nominated by a political party.
- Candidate who receives the most votes is elected.
Arguments for retaining FPTP
- It has existed for a long time and widely accepted.
- It is easy to understand
- Retains strong geographical link (people know their MP)
- Tends to produce strong, single party, decisive stable gvt with a clear HofC majority. (Though 2010 weakens this argument)
Arguments against FPTP
- Disproportional, awards seats to parties unfairly. E.g UKIP 12% votes yet received 1 seat
- Produces large number of wasted votes - those in safe seats or for'no hope' parties
- Votes are effectively not of equal value, those in close marginal seats are worth more than those in 'safe seats'.
- Discriminates significantly against smaller parties
- The 2010 election result gives no clear winner- hung parliament.
- When it does produce a gvt with clear majority, it can be argued too much power is given to the party.
- Most MPs elected on less that 50% of the vote. Leads to doubts about democratic legitimacy
- Turnouts are low, 66% 2015, suggests system is losing support
- Out of step with the rest of Europe, nowhere else in Europe uses FPTP.
SUPPLEMENTARY VOTE/ALTERNATIVE VOTE (majoritarian)
How it works?
- Voters rank their candidates preferentially ie. 1,2,3,4,5
- AV= voters can rank as many as they like
- SV= only have 2 preference votes
- Candidates must achieve 50% of votes to win
- 1st preference votes counted first, in AV…