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Voting Systems

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Tara Jeyasingh

on 6 January 2014

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Transcript of Voting Systems

Voting Systems
First Past The Post
Used in UK General Elections, and England and Wales' Local Elections
A constituency system: made up of 650,which are roughly equal sizes
Voters choose a single candidate to vote for- 'one person, one vote'
Each constituency elects a single candidate: 'winner takes all', who takes up their seat
The winner neads a plurality of votes: not a majority, just more than all the others
It creates disproportionality, systematic biases, a 2 party system and (usually) a landslide win
Alternate Vote
Used in Scottish local government by-elections
Nick Clegg promoted it's use in 2011 referendum, but it was rejected
Single member constituencies
Electors vote preferentially, for as many members as they wish
Votes are counted according to first preference. If no candidate reaches 50%, the bottom candidate drops out, and so on until 1 candidate reaches 50%
Additional Member System
Used in the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Greater London Assembly
A proportion (56% in Scotland, 66% in Wales) of seats are filled by FIRST PAST THE POST
The remaining seats are filled using the CLOSED PARTY LIST SYSTEM
Electors cast 2 votes: 1 for their constituency, and one from the list
The Party List System is used to 'top up' the constituency results. This is done using the D'Hondt method to achieve the most proportional outcome
Party List System
Used in the European Parliament, except in N. Ireland
Number of large multi-member constituencies. Eg in EP elections, the UK is divided into 12 regions, each returning 3-10 member
OPEN LIST: Parties compile lists of candidates to place before the electorate
CLOSED LIST (USED IN UK): Parties are allocated seats in direct proportionality to the votes they gain in each regional constituencies. They fill these seats from their party list. Voters vote for party, and DO NOT see list
Supplementary Vote
Used in the London Mayor elections
Single member constituencies
Electors have 2 votes: a first preference vote, and a second, optional 'supplementary' vote
Winning candidate must win at least 50%
The top 2 candidates remain in the election after all other candidates drop out, and their votes being redistributed on the basis of their second vote until one party receives 50%
Pros and Cons are the same as the Alternate Vote!
Voting systems can be organised by the majoritarian-proportional spectrum...
Majoritarian
Proportional
Single
Transferable Vote
Used in N.Ireland Assembly, NI and Scot. for local government, and in NI for European Parliament
There are multi-member constituencies (Eg. NI has 18 constituencies, each electing 6 members)
Parties can put up as many candidates as there are seats to fill in each constituency
Electors vote preferentially, by ranking candidates in order
Candidates are elected if they achieve a quota of votes, which is calculated using the DROOP formula
Votes are counted according the 1st preference. If anyone reaches the quota, additional votes for them are counted according to 2.d/3rd ect preference.
If this process still leaves seats unfilled, the candidate with fewest votes drops out, and their votes and redistributed according to 2nd/3rd ect preferences
At this end of the spectrum are the most majoritarian systems...
SV and AV are very similar; they share many of the same characteristics
There is also a Hybrid system, which contains constituency features and the Party List system
Getting closer to proportional representation...
This end of the spectrum shows the most propertionally representative system we use in the UK today
A majoritarian system tends to 'over-represent' larger parties, and usually creates single party gov.: larger parties typically win a higher proportion of seats that votes they won. The winning candidate must achieve a majority
Voting systems can produce different political outcomes. A Party could win under 1 system, yet lose under another set of rules.
Some systems and more likely to produce a single party government, and others a coalition.
A proportional system tries to represent parties in line with their electoral support. They tend to create greater proportionality, multiparty systems, coalitions/minority gov's and encourage consensus building
PROS
Offers voters a clear and simple choice
Extremism is kept at bay, since it is hard for smaller parties to gain representation and thus respectability
MP's have strong constituency role because they have a responsibility to them
The winning party can claim a popular mandate to govern, because the largest vody of voters have endorsed their manifesto
Strong and effective government can ensure their legislative programmes are enacted- governments can govern
Stable and cohesive, and rarely collapse due to disunity and friction
CONS
Votes for small parties appear to be 'wasted'
Large parties and those with geographically concentrated support are over represented, at the expense of smaller parties
In 'safe seats' there is no guarantee that MP's will be good constituency representatives
The winning party does not usually win over 50% of votes- more people voted against them than for them
Over strong government dominates the commons and renders Parliament infective- 'elected dictatorship
Transfer of power can cause destabilising shifts in policy, especially damaging economic prospects
PROS
Ensures that fewer votes are 'wasted'
As the winning candidate must secure atleast 50% of the the vote, a broader range of views and opinions influence the outcome
CONS
Outcome may be determines by the preferences of those who support small (extremist?) parties
Winning candidates may only succeed with the help on redistributed supplementary votes, making them only the least unpopular!
PROS
Balances the need for constituency representation against the need for electoral fairness
Although he system is broadly proportional, it keeps alive the possibility of a single party government
Allows voters to make a wide and more considered choice. Eg they can vote for different parties in both elections
CONS
Retention of single-member constituencies reduces the likelihood of high levels of proportionality
The system creates confusion by having 2 types of representative
Constituency representation will be less effective than it is in FPTP, because constituencies are larger and a proportion of representatives have no constituency duties
PROS
Achieves highly proportional outcomes
Competition amongst partt candidates means they can be judged on their individual records and strengths
Many members means constituencies can choose who to ask for advice/help from
CONS
Degree of proportionality can vary
Strong and stable single-party governments are unlikely
Multi-member constituencies may be divisive because they encourage competition amongst members of the same party
PROS
Is the only potentially 'pure system of PR, and is therefore fair to all parties
Promotes unity by encouraging electors to identify with a region, rather than a constituency
Makes it easier for women and minority candidates to be elected, provided they feauture on the Party List
CONS
The existence of many small and unstable parties can lead to weak and unstable government
The link between representatives and constituents is weakened, and may be lost all together
Parties become overly powerful, as they decide where to put members on the list
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