Flashcards in Chapter 10- Electoral Systems Deck (39):
What is an election?
It’s a competitive process where a designated group of people called the electorate, select individuals to serve in specific conditions
What are the functions of an election?
People select a small group to act on their behalf
- Choosing a government:
Elections determine the party that will take power in the HoC
- Influence over policy
People vote based on a parties manifesto
MPs are held accountable and can be removed by the electorate
Elections give legitimacy to the winning party
- Elite recruitment:
MPs have access to resources from political parties
- Citizen education:
Campaigns give insight to people on major political issues
Give an example of a manifesto that was unclear/ untrue
Promised to abolish tuition fees but tripled it in 2010 from £3,000 to £9,000
Give an example of misinformation in a political campaign
In the Brexit campaign, vote leave claimed that leaving the EU would mean the NHS would get £350 million a week but this has been untrue so far
What do elite theorists and democratic theorists believe about the role of elections on liberal democracies?
-Provides authority and stability to the political system
-Political elite decide what is best for people
-Elite can govern with limited backlash
-focus on top down systems ie elite recruitment
-Role of people in process
-government should act in accordance to the people’s wishes
-Focus on bottom up functions ie policy influence and accountability
How many MPs are elected in a general election?
How long is one Parliamentary term?
The Fixed term act ensured that the PM must serve a 5 year term but in order to call an early general election then the PM must gain a 2/3 vote in the HoC
What is an election to a devolved assembly?
Northern Ireland assembly
Occurs once every 5 years
What is a local election?
They are used to elect:
Local councillors are elected once every 4 years
What is the European Parliamentary election?
MEPs are elected every 5 years however it is unlikely we will vote in the 2019 election due to Brexit
What is a by-election
Chooses a representative if one dies or resigns
What 3 bodies are not elected?
What is a majoritarian system?
Must secure an absolute majority (50% +1 vote)
What is a plurality system?
A system where a plurality of votes wins I.e. one more vote than the closest rival
What is a mixed system?
A mix of proportional representation and plurality or majoritarian system ie AMS (additional member system)
What is proportional representation?
Systems that produce a close fit between votes and seats
Define district magnitude
Representatives elected from a particular constituency
Explain how First Past The Post works
- a single MP is elected in a single member constituency
- the electorate has one vote each
- candidates require a plurality of votes (in Belfast 2015 general election, the winning candidate had less than 25% of the vote)
- the winning party is the party with a majority of seats in the HoC (may need to form a coalition)
What is a safe seat?
A constituency where one party has significant majority and this party retains its seat through many elections
Give an example of a safe seat
In Liverpool, labour gained 86% of the vote
What is a marginal seat?
A seat where a party has a small majority and is more likely to be won by a different party in the next election
What are the features of First Past The Post?
- a two party system
- a winners bonus
- bias to a major party
- discrimination against third and smaller parties
- single party government
How is FPTP a two party system and is there any debate against this?
Lab and Tory both have nationwide support giving them a good chance of securing parliamentary majority
There is little incentive for factions of a party to form their own party as they would struggle to get votes, ie the SDP was formed in 1981 and got 25% of the vote in an alliance with the liberals
In 2010 however the lab and Tory parties gained only 65% of the vote, a post war low.
In 2017 the two main parties won 82% of the vote, reviving the two party system
What is the winners bonus?
FPTP exaggerates the performance of the most popular parties and creates a larger parliamentary majority in seats. The conservatives won landslides in 1983 and 1987
How is FPTP bias to one major party?
- Tactical voting
Anti conservative voting in 1997-2010
- Differences in constituency size
In 2015 labour constituencies were 4000 people lower than conservatives
- Different turnout
Labour needed fewer votes to win seats in 2015 as turnout was 7% lower in their constituencies
How does FPTP discriminate against smaller parties?
- smaller parties struggle to win seats
- a vote for a smaller party is psychologically a wasted vote
Give an example of FPTP being unrepresentative
The liberal SDP alliance were 186 seats behind labour while labour polled only 660,000 more votes
In 2015 UKIP was within 10% of the votes of the winning party however they only gained one seat, coming 2nd in 220 constituencies
What are the arguments for FPTP?
Ballot is easy to understand
- clear winner
Party with the most votes usually wins
- strong and stable gov
Parties get a winners bonus so they can exercise more power with a larger majority
- responsible gov
The main opposition party gets a bonus as it is usually a major party, also the doctrine of the mandate obliges the party to put its proposals into effect
- effective representation
Clear link between voters and their constituency
- discriminated against extremists
Difficult for them to win seats
What are the arguments against FPTP?
The winners gain a bonus while the third parties are under-represented
- electoral deserts
FPTP creates areas where parties have little or no support, in NE England conservatives only have 10% of seats
- plurality not majority
In 2017 almost 3/4 of MPs did not gain a majority in their constituency due to low turnout. Labours 2005 victory amounted to 35% of the UK vote
- unequal votes
A vote for a losing candidate is a wasted vote (50% of 2015 votes) and smaller constituencies mean votes will have a larger impact
Choice is limited as only one candidate stands for each party. Also safe seats and tactical voting limit choice
-FPTP doesn’t do what it is supposed to
~more safe seats
~regional differences in support for parties are more pronounced
~parties other than lab and Tory have gained more votes. UKIP has its largest vote share in 2015
FPTP no longer does what it’s supposed to. Why?
FPTP is becoming less effective at persuading people not to vote for smaller parties(23% of support went to the Lib Dem’s in 2010)
Parties other than Lab and Tory are winning more seats in the HoC(lib dems has over 50 seats in 2010)
Regional differences in party support are more pronounced
The number of marginal seats has declined
What is supplementary vote used for?
It is used to elect the mayor of London and PCCs
Explain the process of supplementary vote
-the voter records their first and second choices
-if no candidate wins a majority on their first preference then all but the top 2 candidates are eliminated
-votes are recounted but secondary votes are included
-candidate with the highest number of votes is elected
What are the advantages of supplementary vote?
-the winning candidate will have broad support
-voters can support an individual with their first vote and a party with their second
-people who support minor parties with their first and second vote do not have an impact
What are the disadvantages of supplementary vote?
-The winner may not have a majority
-the winning candidate may win on second preference, making them the least unpopular
-the system would not be proportional in general elections
What is single transferable vote used for?
Northern Ireland Assembly elections
General elections in the Republic of Ireland
Explain the process of single transferable vote
-Voting is preferential so the electorate assign numbers to show their choice, the electorate can vote for as many or as few as they wish
-Candidates must achieve a quota
-if no candidate reaches the first count then the lowest candidate is eliminated and the votes are counted again
-this continues until the number of seats are filled by candidates who achieved the quota
What are the advantages of Single Transferable Vote?
-votes are of equal value and outcome is proportional
-the government will consist of a group with 50+% of the vote
-candidates from the same party can be chosen so there is greater choice
What are the disadvantages of Single Transferable Vote?
-multi member constituencies mean the link between MP and constituency is weakened
-likely to produce a weak, unstable government as it often results in a coalition
-counting process takes a long time
-proportional representation is better at translating votes to seats