Elections and representation

  • Created by: hutc2232
  • Created on: 03-06-17 12:15
What are the functions of elections?
Forming governments, ensuring representation and upholding legitimacy, educating citizens and participation for citizens
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What is the function of a general election?
They serve to transfer power from one government to the next
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What electoral system do the UK use in general elections?
First past the post
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What is a hung parliament?
When no single political party has an absolute majority of votes
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Give an example of when a hung parliament occurred.
May 2010 General Election
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What are the possible outcomes after a hung parliament?
Either a minority government, which is unlikely, or a coalition
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What are the differences between elections and referendums?
Elections - general (amorphus) issues - Referendums - single issues - Elections - Representative democracy - Referendums - Direct democracy - Elections - regular (legally, fixed term parliament act 2011) - Referendums - Ad hoc
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What is representation?
Representation is a relationship through whih an individual or a groups stand for, or acts on behalf of, a larger body of people
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What is a delegate?
A person who is chose to act for another on the basis of clear guidance or instructions; do no think for themselves.
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What is a trustee?
A person who has formal (and usually legal) responsibility for another's property or affairs.
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What is an election?
A method of filling an office or post through choices made by a designated body of people:the electorate.
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What are UK elections based on that supports their claim that they are democratic?
Universal adult suffrage, one person = one vote, the secret ballot, competition between candidates and parties
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What are the four main elections in the UK?
General election, local elections, European parliament elections, devolved assembly elections
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Give two ways elections reinforce representation.
1. Create a constituency link, thus the public's concerns are properly articulated. 2. Link between the present government and public opinion; publicly accountable and ultimately removable.
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What are the doubts about the effectiveness of elections in ensuring representation?
1. Fixed term parliament 2011 act means 5 year governments 2. Considerable debate about how elected politicians can and should represent their electors.
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What are the doubts about the effectiveness of elections in upholding legitimacy?
1. Low turnout levels 2. Falling support for the two governing parties: Labour and Conservatives
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Examples of low turnouts in elections
General elections: 2001 - 59% turnout - LOWEST - 2015 - 66% turnout -- European Parliament elections: 2014: EU average = 43% , UK turnout = 36%
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Examples of high turnouts in elections
Referendums : 2016 - EU - 72% Devolved assembly elections: Scottish independence 2014 - 85%
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What does Burkean think?
MP's should be allowed a free vote - representatives should think for themselves and use their own judgement because the mass of people may not know their own best interests
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What is a free vote?
A vote in which there is no party line (no whips) allowing MP's to think for themselves and be independent
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When has a free vote been given?
Brexit referendum
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What is a mandate democracy?
The legitimization of the policies within the manifesto clarifying party unity and discipline. In effect, politicians serve constitutes not by thinking for themselves, but remaining loyal
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What are criticisms of the doctrine of the mandate?
1. Voters are unlikely to support whole manifesto 2. Unclear whether the Prime Minister or the party gain the mandate. 3. If a coalition, the mandate is unworkable
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Where is First past the post used?
Elections for House of Commons and local governments in England and Wales
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Where is the Additional Member system used?
Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Greater London Assembly
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Where is the Regional Party list system used?
European parliament elections (except Northern Ireland)
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Where is the Alternative vote used?
London mayoral elections and local government by-elections in Scotland
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Where is the Single Transferable vote used?
Northern. Ireland Assembly(has 18 constitutes, each returning 6 members) and Local governments in Northern. Ireland and Scotland
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What is a majoritarian system?
An electoral system that tends to 'over represent' larger parties and usually results in single party majority governments.
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Give an example of a majoritarian system.
Alternative vote
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What is a proportional system?
An electoral system that tends to represent parties in line with their electoral support, often portrayed as proportional representation.
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What is plurality?
The largest number out of a collection of numbers; a simple majority, not necessarily an absolute majority.
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What are features of First past the post?
Constituency links (646), Candidates select a single candidate (reflects one person = one vote), one candidate per constituent (winner takes all), constituencies are roughly equal in size, only need a plurality of votes
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What are the implications of First past the post?
Disproportionality, two party system, single party government, landslide effect, Systematic bias' (benefits large parties, gerrymandering, wasted votes)
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What is tactical voting?
Voting not for the preferred party but for a 'least bad' party or to defeat a 'worst' party
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Examples of disproportionality
2015 - General election - UKIP got 3.8 million votes (12.6%) = 1 vote whilst SNP got 4.7% of votes and got 56 seats.
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What are advantages to First past the post?
Strong and stable governments, quick and simple
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What are the implications of proportional voting systems?
Greater proportionality, multiparty system, coalition or minority government and consensus building
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What are the features of the Additional member system?
Mixed system ( FPTP+party list), used d'hondt method to achieve more proportional outcome, electors cast 2 votes, closed and open list
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What are the advantages of the Additional member system?
Balances the need for constituency representation against electoral fairness, voters make wider and more considered chioces, still possibility for a single party government
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What are the disadvantages of the Additional member system?
Confusion, retention of single member constituencies reduces chance of high proportionality, less effective representation
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What are the features of Single transferable votes?
Multimember constituencies (accountability), droop formula,parties put as many candidates forward as they please,preferential ranking, redistribution of votes
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What are the advantages of the Single transferable votes?
Highly proportional, competition amongst candidates of same party, choice of whom to take grievances to
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What are the disadvantage of the Single transferable votes?
Degree of proportionality can vary, unlikely for strong and stable government, divisive multi members as competition amongst parties
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What are the functions of the Regional party list system?
Multimember constituencies, closed list - vote for party not candidates, compile a list of preferential place before the electorate, in descending order
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What are the advantages of the Regional party list system?
Only pure proportional representation, promotes unity due to identifying with a region rather then constituency, easier for minorities
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What are the disadvantages of the Regional party list system?
Promotes extremist parties, increases likelihood of a coalition, no constituency link, lack of accountability, increases party power
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What are the features of the Alternative vote?
single member constituencies, vote preferentially, 50% threshold
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Whats the difference between AV and SV?
AV - vote preferentially SV - two votes in preference AV - if no candidate reaches threshold, bottom candidate drops out SV- the top two candidates remain, the rest of the votes are redistributed
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Why have more Labour party members converted to the cause of proportional representation?
1. They had been defeated 4 times by Conservatives 2. Many anticipated they'd have to become a coalition with the Liberal Democrats to return to power and that would only be possible if they reached an agreement on a reform
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FOR Westminster reforming:
To produce electoral fairness, no wasted votes, majority governments (not plurality rule), accountable governments (no executive domination), consensus political culture
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AGAINST Westminster reform:
Constituency link, strong and stable government, clear electoral choice, mandate democracy
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What is partisanship?
A bias or preference of a particular group or body, expressed through affection, loyalty and support
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What is a core voter?
Voters who support the same party time and time again, reflecting a strong alliance towards a particular party.
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What are the disadvantages of the First past the post system?
Gerrymandering, wasted votes, single government, Spoiler effect
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FOR compulsory voting
Increased participation (Australia - fell to 60% in 1922), Greater legitimacy, civic duty (education, no political apathy), stronger social justice (minorities more likely to be represented - poor = uneducated = no vote = young = apathy)
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AGAINST compulsory voting
Abuse of freedom, worthless votes, distorted political focus, cosmetic democraccy
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What three ways can voting behavior be explained?
1. Sociological model focuses on the relationship between social factors and voting 2. the party identifacation model considers voters' loyalty or attatchment towards a party 3.issue model portrays voters as rationally self interested actors
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What are the long term factors affecting voting?
Social class, age, race, region and party loyalty. Altered over years due to class dealignment and partisan dealignment
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What are the short term factors affecting voting?
Party policies, the performance and image of parties, the effectiveness of party leaders and tactical considerations
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What is class dealignment?
is the weakening of the relationship between social class and party support. It is reflected in a declining proportion of working-class voters supporting Labour
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What is partisan dealignment?
is a decline in the extent to which people align themselves with a party by identifying with it - rise in floaters
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What is proportional representation?
The principle that parties should be represented in an assembly or parliament in direct proportion to their overall electoral strength
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Explain three ways elections promote democracy.
1. Equal vote + impact (universal adult suffrage) regardless of birth or wealth, 2. legitimate transfer of office, 3. educate the public, increasing competition between candidates
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What are marginal seats?
A seat or constituency with a small majority, which is therefore 'winnable' by more than one party
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Why are marginal seats important under the first past the post system?
Because the outcome of the election is determined by the marginal seats. Marginal seats, 100/650, are recognizable for emphasizing a two party system - discourages potential third party supporters from voting them; chance of the spoiler effect
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Why has class dealignment occurred?
1. Changing class system 2. Cross class locations 3. Embourgeosiement 4. Sectoral cleavages
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Why has partisan dealignment occurred?
1. Increased education 2. Impact of the media 3. Ideological change 4.Decline in social capital
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How has the impact of the media caused partisan dealignment?
Voters have access to wider sources of political information, particularly through TV. Thus means they are less dependent on party supporting newspapers
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Examples of Party supporting newspapers
Guardian = Labour, Daily Mirror = Labour, Sun = Conservative, Mail = Conservative, Economist = Liberal Democrats
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How has increased education caused partisan dealignment?
It has encouraged voters to question traditional, party based loyalty and perhaps take policies and issues more seriously
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How has ideological change caused partisan dealignment?
Shifts in partiess' policies and ideological beliefs since 1980's have alienated some of the traditional supporters
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How has a decline in social capital caused partisan delignment?
As post industrial societies have become more diverse, fluid and consumer orientated, social attachments and loyalties of all kinds have weakened.
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Assess the merits of the different electoral systems operating in the UK
FPTP - strong stable government(discriminates small parties),simple(not fair) , AMS = proportional+constituency links (confusing+coalitions), STV = choice (coalitons), Party list = smaller parties good (larger parties bad)
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Explain three disadvantages of proportional representation
1. Coalition, lack of accountability, 2. Extremist parties gain representation e.g UKIP 13 seats majority in EU Parliament, 3. Complex, in casting vote(spoiled ballots) and outcome,low turnout?
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Make out a case in favour of electoral reform for Westminster elections.
1. Low turnout, legitimate? 2.Unequal voting, vote only counts in marginal constituencies 3.Plurality of votes to win, unrepresentative, 4. Lack of accountability, safe seats
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What safe seat did Labour lose in a by-election?
Copeland; Conservatives got with a 6% swing - lost cos Sellafield(nuclear plant) lost 20,000 jobs. UKIP expected to come 2nd but Nuttal said wanted to privatise the NHS
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What are the outcomes of First past the post?
Single government, winning party winning more seats than votes, disadvantaged third party
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Give an example of a party winning more seats than votes
Labour - Blair - 1997 - 43% votes - 63% seats - Conservatives - Cameron - 36% votes - 48% seats
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Give an example of a party winning less seats than votes
UKIP - 12.6% of votes - 1 seat
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What are the outcomes for AMS?
Minority government, coalition, proportional, smaller parties get represented
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Give an example of smaller parties getting representation under AMS
2009 - Scotland Greens 4% votes 2% seats
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What are the outcomes for Regional Party list?
Coaliton, proportional, votes are equal, extremist parties get representation
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Give an example of extremist parties getting representation in Regional Party list?
2009 - UKIP - European Parliament - 13 seats majority
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What are the outcomes of STV?
Seats reflect votes, coalition, choice, smaller parties gain representation
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Give an example of seats reflecting votes in STV.
2011 - Northern Ireland Assembly Sinn Fein - 26% votes -27% seats
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What are the outcomes of SV?
Not proportional (but is more than FPTP), smaller parties benefit
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Give an example of a smaller party benefitting under SV.
Liberal Democrats often 2nd choice but Labour and Conservatives not often each others 2nd choice
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What are the outcomes of AV?
Promotes 3 main parties , smaller parties may suffer
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Give seat/vote stats on Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats in 2010 General election
Conservative - 36% vote - 43% seats(307) - Labour 29% votes - 40% seats(258) Liberal Democrats - 23% votes - 9% seats (57)
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What are the three main competing notions in debate about representation?
Trusteeship, the doctrine of the mandate, descriptive representation
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What is the trusteeship theory otherwise known as?
Burkean representation
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What is donkey voting?
Occurs in STV - preference voting system, ranks them based on the order they appear on the ballot paper
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What is trusteeship?
The theory that trustees act on behalf of others, formally and usually legally due to their greater knoweledge and experience.
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What is criticism of trusteeship?
Allowing politicians to think for themselves creates a 'gap' for ordinary people. Could mean they act in their own interests rather than the interests of the mass of people. This gap could be filled by shortening electoral terms. Out of date
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What is doctrine of the mandate?
most influential - 'popular' mandate authorizes party to carry out its policies in the manifesto.
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What is descriptive representation?
Where representatives should resemble the group they claim to represent. Act in interests of party.
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What is descriptive representation sometimes known as?
Characteristic representation
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What are the criticisms of descriptive representation?
Representation becomes narrow and exclusive and would reflect societies weaknesses as well as its strengths
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In terms of gender, what are the stats for conservative on adverage?
18-34 men were more likely but 55+ women are more likely than men ( 44% : 39% )
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Labour tend to get their votes from the young. In what year and by whom did it suffer defection?
In 2005 by Liberal Democrats amongst 18-25 year olds
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What was Conservatives lead in Church of England support compared to Labour during the 20th century?
9% lead
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In 2001, what was Labours lead in black minority support compared to Conservatives?
67% lead
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In 2001, what was Labours lead in asian minority support compared to Conservatives?
58% lead
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Between 2005 and 2010, what happened to Labours asian support?
There were signs of fracturing in their votes due to the Iraq war, with defections among some Muslim asians, usually to the Liberal Democrats
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Give an famous example of 'wrong' policies ( year: 1983 )
The longest suicide note in history: Labour
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What three qualities do leaders need to portray a chance in winning an election?
Trust, accessibility and strength
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In the 1900's Conservatives were described as what and by whom?
Theresa May, then the chairman, called them a 'nasty pasty' in 2002.
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Why is there a declining turnout?
Rise in ethnic minority numbers, class dealignment, partisan dealignment and political apathy
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'A link still exists between class and voting'. Discuss the extent to which class still influences voting behavior in the UK.
DOES: sociological view: 2015 Labour 36 based on survey of 100,000 yet Cons got 29 on household income votes DOESN'T: other factors, class dealignment
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What is the function of a general election?


They serve to transfer power from one government to the next

Card 3


What electoral system do the UK use in general elections?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What is a hung parliament?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Give an example of when a hung parliament occurred.


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