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UK - Electoral Systems

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Ross McKenzie

on 26 March 2014

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Transcript of UK - Electoral Systems

Alternative Vote
Additional Member System
Single Transferable Vote
First Past the Past
Supplementary Vote
List System
In January 1972, 13 Civil Rights Marchers were killed by British Troops, after violence between Catholics and Protestants had Escalated into bombings and shootings. This day was known as Bloody Sunday, and for the next 30 years, 3500 more lives would be lost in the conflict.
Conflicts Before The Agreement
A Voter in the STV system will be asked to rank their choices for candidates in the elections.
The Country is divided into multi-member constituencies, so that there can be one MP to one of the multiple seats in each constituency.
If a candidate reaches the quota on first preferences, that candidate is elected. If the candidate wins a surplus of votes over the quota, his or her secondary votes are distributed among the other candidates, giving them a chance to reach the quota. If seats remain unfilled, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and their second preferences are distributed among the remaining candidates.
STV System
On the 10th Of April 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed
This Agreement gave instructions to Northern Ireland to form a Government, consisting of 108 members and for Unionists and Nationalists to share power in the Assembly.
A North-South Ministerial Council was also set up, as well as a British Irish Council made up of representatives from both Westminster and Dublin governments.
In June 1998 the Northern Ireland elections were held, and although the Party with the most first preference votes was the SDLP, the UUP had the largest share of seats and won.
The Northern Ireland Assembly
The Electoral System Of Northern Ireland
SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) they were the leading unionist party until 2001, lost their seats to Sinn Fein in the 2003 elections.
Sinn Fein: they are still linked to the Provisional IRA but now dominate the Republican movement in Northern Ireland.
DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) are the leading Unionist Party. They are Anti Good-Friday Agreement.
IRA (Irish Republican Army) a military organisation that over the years has gone through decommissioning.
UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) THE UUP were the leading unionist party until 2003, and they are pro-agreement.
Political & Military Organisations in Northern Ireland
The STV system was believed to be created by Thomas Hare, in the 19th Century.
However, the system, which is meant to be for people who prefer to vote for the candidates themselves rather than parties, has often been regarded as complicated.
STV System
The STV system is a far more complicated one than the one used in England, and follows this formula:
Northern Ireland now uses the Single Transferable Vote System (STV) in order to elect its Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as Northern Ireland EU elections.
The Voting System
Ten Other Ministers are in the Executive section of the NI assembly along with Paisley and McGuinness.
Northern Irelands first minister is Ian Paisley, his Deputy is Martin McGuinness.
The Executive section in the Northern Ireland Assembly, which includes Ian Paisley, is in power.
Number of Votes divided by (the Number of Seats) +1, and the result has 1 added on again.
If no one achieves the droop, then the candidate who came last is cut-off and his second preferences redistributed
Those who receive votes and achieve the quota then receive seats
If there are still seats left, then the person who comes last is cut off again and their preferences redistributed
STV – Droop Quota
This is the equation used to set the standard needed to gain a seat
Candidates must achieve this quota in order to gain a seat
If you receive the quota on the first round you receive the seat
If not, then it gets complicated……………
Droop Quota
Droop Quota
Again this uses multi-member constituencies
Like AV before, you get to rank the candidates in order of 1,2,3….
You don’t have to rank all the candidates, you can stop after 2 for example
Single Transferable Vote (STV) – Republic of Ireland
In a closed list system, the voters only get to vote for a party, rather than the candidates
The seats within the multi-member constituency are then allocated proportionally to the amount of votes the party received
The party has the choice to allocate the seats they have won to the candidates on their list
‘Closed’ List System
No MP-Constituent link, at least not as strong as FPTP
Weak coalition government, consensus politics as a myth?
Can have a lack of accuracy with regards to translating votes into seats
Proportional in terms of votes
Good enfranchisement
Parties or coalitions who receive 50% +1 of the vote form the government
A range of options exist within the party, there is no ‘one party, one candidate’ issue within the system
Closed list systems mean that parties decide who goes into parliament, not the voter
This can also stop marginal viewpoints from being represented, by forcing those who are not in line with the party policies further down the list
A very fair and proportional system
Enfranchisement – every vote matters
List System
This is when on a ballot paper, the voter is presented with a parties list of candidates and they vote for the one they want
This also provides the opportunity for independent candidates to become elected
‘Open’ List System
As we have discussed before, this is the system used in the EU Parliamentary Elections
It involves multi-member constituencies
The candidates are allocated seats within the constituency according the proportion of vote they receive
List System – UK electoral system for the EU
How it works: Under this hybrid system, about 500 MPs would be elected for individual constituencies under a scheme where voters rank candidates in order of preference. There would be a top-up of about 150 members to ensure a broad proportionality between votes cast and seats won.

Advantage: Being able to rank candidates increases voter choice, as does having a constituency vote and regional vote.

Disadvantage: creates two classes of MPs which creates animosity between them and a confusion of roles.

Who wins: Lib Dems and minor parties

Who loses: Tories and Labour
With the supplementary vote, there are two columns on the ballot paper – one for the first choice and one for the second choice. Votes are marked by placing one 'X' in each column, although voters are not required to make a second choice if they do not wish to.
All the first-preference are tallied, and if a candidate has a majority, they are elected. If no candidate receives a majority, the top two candidates are retained, and the rest eliminated. The second-preference votes of the eliminated candidates are then counted, and any for either of the top two candidates are added to their first-round totals. Whichever candidate has the most votes after these second-preferences have been allocated is declared the winner.
Supplementary Vote
The candidates are ranked according to the voters preference e.g. ‘1’ is put by their favourite candidate, ‘2’ next to their second and so on
The ‘1s’ are counted first, if a candidate wins a majority (50%+1) then they win.
If this does not occur, the lowest ranked candidate is cut off and his or her ‘2’ votes redistributed and added to the other candidate’s votes
If a candidate achieves a majority after this, then they win the election, if not the last placed candidate is cut off and his or her ‘3’ votes redistributed to the others
And so on…
Alternative Vote
SV suffers from all of the disadvantages of AV.
SV does not eliminate the likelihood of tactical voting.
Unlike AV, SV does not ensure that the winning candidate has the support of at least 50% of the electorate.
SV strongly promotes voting for only candidates from the main three parties.
If there are more than two strong candidates, voters must guess which two will make the final round, and if they guess incorrectly, their second-preference vote will be wasted.
To some extent, SV encourages conciliatory campaigning, as gaining second-preference votes is important.
It is a relatively simple system to understand.
Supplementary Vote
It can be less proportional than First-Past-the-Post.
It does very little to improve the voice of traditionally under-represented groups in parliament, strengthening the dominance of the 'central' viewpoint.

There is no transfer of power from party authority to the voters.

It is prone to a certain amount of 'Donkey voting', where voters rank candidates randomly, not knowing enough about all of them to make an informed decision.

Under certain circumstances, a shrewd voter can get a better result by lying. If, for example, it is known that the contest will be fought between two strong candidates, supporters of one might rank third parties above the other, even if the other is technically their second choice. 

In a broadly three-way race, where there are two strong parties who actively dislike each other and a third 'compromise' candidate sitting in between, the compromise candidate is likely to be defeated in the first round, despite the fact that they could well be the most universally acceptable option.
All MPs would have the support of a majority of their constituents.

It retains the same constituencies, meaning no need to redraw boundaries, and no overt erosion of the constituency-MP link.

It more accurately reflects public opinion of extremist parties, who are unlikely to gain many second-preference votes.

Coalition governments are no more likely to arise under AV than under First Past the Post.

It eliminates the need for tactical voting. Electors can vote for their first-choice candidate without fear of wasting their vote.

A change to AV could be a step towards the adoption of STV.

It encourages candidates to chase second- and third-preferences, which lessens the need for negative campaigning (one don't want to slag off a candidate whose second preferences one wants) and rewards broad-church policies.
Alternative Vote
Australian Election 2010
1 m
21 = 47620
Cons = 256000 - 5
Lab=201000 - 4
Libs=110000 - 2
UKIP = 80000 - 1
The Alternative Vote Plus (AV+), or Alternative Vote Top-up, is a semi-proportional voting system. AV+ was invented by the 1998 Jenkins Commission which first proposed the idea as a system that could be used for elections to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.[1]

As the name suggests, AV+ is an additional member system which works in two parts: the 'AV' part and the 'plus' part. As in the Alternative Vote Instant-runoff voting system, candidates are ranked numerically in order of preference. The important difference is that an additional group of members would be elected through the regional party lists system to ensure proportionality; in typical proposals, these members are 15–20% of the whole body. More specifically, each voter would get a second vote to elect a county or regional-level representative from a list of candidates of more than one person per party. The number of votes cast in this vote would decide how many representatives from that county or region would go on to parliament.
Elections, Electoral Systems and Voting Behaviour
Devolved Nations Elections (Scotland, Wales)
It is still a simple system, just with a little add-on. Sometimes called FPTP – TU (?)
Seats are still chosen via a constituency. Each constituency returns a single member to the parliament
However, on the ballot slip, the choices are greater than a usual FPTP system
Additional Member System (AMS)
You have two votes, one to elect your constituency member (using the traditional FPTP system)
The second is to choose a party you want to vote for
Additional Member System (AMS)
The second vote goes into a proportional representation style election, and a proportion of the seats in the house are awarded proportionally to the number of those votes received. Each region in Wales (4 from each of the 5 EU election regions) and Scotland (divided again between EU election regions) using the d’Hondt rule receives ‘top-up’ seats
Additional Member System (AMS)
The TU seats are taken from a preferred candidate list the parties had drawn up before the election. These are put into rank order on the list and members win their seats in regards to party preference.
Regional/Constituency Seats
Top-Up seats
Welsh Assembly
Scottish Parliament
Proportion of Seats in both systems
Maintains the link between constituencies and MPs

More proportional than the current FPTP
Can make it difficult for one party to govern.

Can give third parties unproportionate influence by giving them the balance of power
Elections, Electoral Systems and Voting Behaviour
European Parliament Elections
Since 1979, the European Parliament has been the only directly elected institution within the EU government
Turnout is the European elections has always been low. In 1999 for example, 24% of the registered voters in the UK turned out
This is similar to the general election in the sense it is a nationwide vote
The UK elects 78 candidates to the European Parliament at the moment but this number could change at the next election
This is directly proportional to the population of the country
Elections occur every 5 years but use different constituencies to that of the UK general election
The aim is to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
European Parliamentary Election
The European Parliament election is performed along the lines of a ‘list’ system (a system we will discuss later on in the syllabus)
It is a proportional system, which concentrates on making sure that all votes count
This list system allocates seats in a multi-member constituency according to the proportion of votes a party receives
Electoral System
An entirely proportional system
Full transcript