10th February 2014
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the first past the post electoral system
The UK electoral system is run by the First Past the Post system, voting takes place in single-member constituencies. Voters put a cross in a box next to their favoured candidate and the candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins. The advantages of using a First Past the Post system are as follows: Firstly, the system is simple and easy for constituents to understand because you only have one box to tick. By having to only tick one box, voters can clearly express which party they would prefer to form a government. Also, having had this system for a long time now ensures that the public have confidence in this system and if the system was changed to be any further complex this could run the risk of reducing turnout at elections and the general election turnout is low already at 65% in 2010. In addition to this, it makes it easier to count the votes so the turnaround on the results is in hours rather than using a Proportional Representation system which would take days to process results.
According to Duverger’s Law, elections structured within single-member districts tend to favour a two party system. This is the case for the First Past the Post system of voting. This is beneficial because two party systems tend to lead to single party governments (prior to the 2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition). This is good for the single party in government because they would not have to compromise policies with the other party or rely on support from other parties to pass legislation. Another advantage would be that the system encourages ‘Broad-Church’ centrist policies rather than radical ones that only a small percentage of the country would agree with. Due to the system requiring single member constituencies there are more constituencies than if there were a Proportional Representation system in place, there is a close geographical link...
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