Electoral Systems

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Electoral Systems
There is only one path to democracy and that is an election. It is the only way that a government can represent the will of the people. It gives legitimacy to government and ensures that the freedom one gives up in lieu of security and order is maintained. In a democratic state, the electoral process determines who will hold political office. The importance of a free, fair and representative election cannot be overstated in the 21st century nor can be the process of it undermined. Due to the rapid pace of globalization no one constituency, country or region is isolated from one another. Everything is interdependent on the macro level, be it an economy or an election. Human beings have come a long way in terms of civilization and the growth we have seen can be attributed to a number of factors. However if we narrow our vision one thing that is common to this period of growth and progress is civility and the realization that the only way to success is when one stops worrying about the security of life and starts contributing towards the engines of growth. Who provides that security and ensures prosperity has varied throughout history, and its success has been largely dependent on it as well. The governors of the world have ranged from religion to monarchies not to mention armies and cults but the only time the world has seen sustained progress has been when the people have been in charge. And the only way to put people in charge is via elections. Having determined that it is the people who govern best and not some king, who on his own whim determines the fate of his subjects (country), this paper will look at electoral systems that are prevalent in the world and to what degree are they representative of the people they govern. According to Vernon Bogdanor, voting systems can be categorized under three headings: plurality systems; majority systems; and proportional systems. Under the majority system, the party or candidate winning more than 50 percent of the vote in a constituency is awarded the contested seat. A difficulty in systems with the absolute-majority criterion is that it may not be satisfied in contests in which there are more than two candidates. The plurality system is the simplest means of determining the outcome of an election. In order to win, a candidate needs only poll more votes than any other single opponent; he need not, as required by the majority formula, poll more votes than the combined opposition. The more candidates contesting a constituency seat, the higher the probability that the winner of that seat will only represent the minority of the votes cast. Proportional systems on the other hand represent the idea that Members should be elected to the parliament/congress on a party basis which reflects the proportion of votes cast for a party in the election: thus, if 40 percent of the electorate votes Republican, then the same percentage of seats should be held by that party in congress. One of the most widely used of all these systems is the plurality system of voting. Also known as the ‘Simple Majority System’. One of the reasons for the use of this system is its simplicity; the candidate with the highest number of votes wins. The United Kingdom and its former colonies including the United States use this system as their primary system of voting. This system is simple and straightforward, but is liable to lead to the election of candidates who do not have majority support, and it produces parliaments in which the distribution of seats may not reflect particularly closely the distribution of votes at the election. The phenomenon of the “wasted vote” is directly attributed to this system and so is the dominance of the two party system with smaller parties being sidelined. The 2005 elections held in the United Kingdom are a clear example of this disparity that is created by this system. Wikipedia Images

Variants of the simple majority systems exist and eliminate some of the...
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