2.2.2 Electoral systems in the UK Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in 2.2.2 Electoral systems in the UK Deck (14):

What is First Past the Post?

First Past the Post is using a voting system in which a person is elected because they get more votes than anyone else in the area that they want to represent. - Cambridge Dictionary

Denoting an electoral system in which a candidate or party is selected by achievement of a simple majority. - Oxford Dictionary of English

In context, FPTP is the electoral system used in UK General Elections, where electors vote for one individual in single-member constituencies, and the candidate with the most votes (a plurality) wins a seat in the House of Commons.


What is the Additional Member System (AMS)?

Additional Member System (AMS) is a type of proportional representation in which each elector votes separately for a party and for a representative.

AMS is a mixed system, combining simple constituency elections and a directly elected proportional component. Electors cast two votes - one for a constituency MP and one for their preferred party.


What is the Single Transferrable Vote?

Single Transferrable Vote (STV) is an electoral system of proportional representation in which a person's vote can be transferred to a second or further competing candidate (according to the voter's stated order of preference) if the candidate of first choice is eliminated during a succession of counts or has more votes than are needed for election.

STV is used in multi-member constituencies, and each constituency elects between three and five MPs depending on its size. The process of vote redistribution continues until the required number of MPs reach the necessary quota and are returned to Parliament.


What is the Party List?

Party List is an electoral system of proportional representation in which people vote for a party rather than a candidate and seats are filled from lists of candidates according to each party's share of the vote.

The voting system to vote for MEPs in England, Wales and Scotland for the European elections is the d'Hondt system of proportional representation - a regional closed list, introduced in the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999.


Examples of referendums which have taken place within the United Kingdom.

- Scotland referendum on Devolution, Parliament & Tax (11/9/1997)
- Wales referendum on Devolution and Assembly (18/9/1997)
- The Good Friday Agreement
- More devolved powers for Wales (3/3/2011)
- Electoral Reform for Westminster on HoC voting system (5/5/2011)
- Independence for Scotland (18/9/2014)
- Remain in the EEC
- Remain or Leave the European Union (23/6/2016)


Arguments for Refrendum

- Reduces democratic deficit, where Government/ institutions fall short of fulfilling principles of democracy. Example of such is the long duration between General Elections - 5 Years.

- Form of direct democracy, which brings decision making closer to people. Faith in politics is falling, decision making is more distant and has been seen as elitist -> which weakens democracy. A referendum may increase turnout and engagement.

- Confers Legitimacy through public consultation

- Educative benefits (Importance of voting, responsibilities, etc.)

- A way to settle complex and controversial issues

- Referendum functions as a check on the Government, ensures key change only take place with public support, preventing elective dictatorship

- Increase support for political system, as people become more involved and understands the functioning of institutions

- Increase public political participation


Arguments against referendums

- It is argued that elected politicians make better and more informed decisions. "Legislation must be made by the quality, not by the mob." - George Bernard Shaw

- Voter ignorance and irrationality, where they may be easier affected by emotions

- Faith in political system can be undermined by poor turnouts that don't confer legitimacy (Welsh Assembly 25%)

- Outcome of referendum can be influenced, by, e.g. Financial imbalances between campaigns.

- Some issues are too complex to be decided with a Yes/No response.

- Minority interests under threat and unlikely to be agreed. Example include 1968 Legislation of Homosexuality.

- Inconclusive result - EU & Brexit - could be said as a draw (Scotland&NI2-2England&Wales) in different perspectives - LSE Dr Jo Murkens

- 'Voter fatigue' if it is eld too frequent

- Referendums may be used by voters as a vote of confidence on the Government

- 'Tyranny of the majority' - e.g. leading to increased in hate crimes on non-British after Brexit results released; Northern Ireland Rights

- British democracy (representative democracy) do not require referendums

- Opportunist manipulation - critics Argued - Brexit short period and Asymmetric information


What is an election?

A formal and organised choice of vote of a person for a political office or other positions.


What are elections for?

Elections are for:
- Political recruitment: Giving citizens the opportunity to choose a candidate whom they delegate most of their political duties to, until the next election.
- Accountability on their representative: If a citizen is not satisfied with the legislator's work, one can vote him out.
- Grants legitimacy.


Characteristics of the General Election

The greatest scaled election in the UK
Usually takes place every 5 years (unless the PM can secure over 2/3 majority in the House of Commons for an early election)


What is the eligibility of voting in the General Election?

One must be:
- 18 or over,
- Registered to vote,
- British Citizen, and
- Not legally excluded from voting.


What is electoral system?

Electoral system is the method used to calculate the number of elected positions in the government that individuals and parties are awarded after elections.
UK adopts different electoral systems such as majoritarian, proportional, and hybrid systems.


Features of First Past The Post

- Simple system; Gives advantage to parties that have concentrated support in certain region & disadvantageous to parties with scattered support (e.g. Conservatives in 2017 GE won 42.4% of votes but won 48.9% of seats; Liberal Democrats 7.4% votes 1.9% seats, UKIP 1.8% votes 0 seats)

- Favours large parties & prevent serious challenges from small parties; 'winner bonus' (e.g. Green Party won 525,371 votes but only got 1 seat, Liberal Democrats 2,371,772 votes 12 seats, 197,583 votes per seat on avg, however Labour and Conservatives only need 49,141 and 42,978 votes per seat on avg)


Advantages of FPTP

- Cheap & easy to operate & administer, simple & easily understood by anyone, increasing voters confidence in result
- As FPTP is originated for a two-party system, it favours large parties, and the winner-takes-all nature together contributes to the pluralist-winning party winning more seats than its proportionate share of vote, producing a strong (working majority) & stable (lasts the course) government
- Voters have the power to vote the government out under FPTP with a relatively small swing in votes (e.g. The conservatives were removed in 1997 by a 10% swing to Labour, It is said that only 200,000 votes are needed to determine which party's the government)
- The single-member constituency allows a close MP-Constituency link, where no matter if the voter has voted for the MP or not, he has represented by a MP, which provides a person to approach in case of a problem, and also a clear democratic link between people & the Parliament.
- Quick vote-counting leads to a quick result & transfer of power if necessary.
- Provides little chance for extremist parties to be elected into the Parliament.