Compare and Contrast the Uk and Germanys Electoral Systems

Topics: Voting system, Plurality voting system, Election Pages: 5 (1766 words) Published: April 19, 2013
Within this essay I shall compare and contrast the UK and Germanys Electoral systems. A voting system or electoral system is a method by which voters make a selection between options, generally in an election or on a policy referendum. Electoral systems can be defines as a way to determine the means by which votes are translated into seats in the process of electing politicians into office. A voting system enforces rules to ensure valid voting, and how votes are counted and totalled to produce a final result. Winners may be determined by a plurality, a majority (more than 50% of the vote), an extraordinary majority (a percentage of the vote greater than 50%), or unanimity. Candidates for public office may be elected directly or indirectly. Proportional representation is used in some areas to ensure a fairer distribution of legislative seats to constituencies that may be denied representation under the plurality or majority formulas. Common voting systems are majority rule, proportional representation or plurality voting with a number of alterations and methods such as first-past-the-post or preferential voting. Electoral systems are designed to fulfil a number of often conflicting functions such as reflecting the wishes of voters, producing strong and stable governments, electing qualified representatives. In selecting a particular design of electoral system, the ‘electoral engineers’ have to take important decisions about which function to stress most. As a result no two countries have the same electoral system. There are many different types of electoral systems used around the world, moreover within individual countries different electoral systems may be found in different regions and at different level of government, e.g. Committees of all kinds elect new chairman and trade unions elect members to their national councils. Less frequently though there are general elections to parliament. Electoral systems can be divided into three general types; plurality electoral systems, Majority electoral systems and Proportional representation. Plurality systems may also be called “first-past-the-post” or “winner-take-all” systems, plurality systems basically award a seat to the individual candidate who obtains the most votes in an election. The candidate need not get a majority (50 %+) of the vote to win; so long as he has a superior number of votes than all other candidates, he is declared the winner. Plurality systems normally depend on single-member constituencies, and allow voters to indicate only one vote on their ballot (by pulling a single lever, punching a hole in the ballot, making an X, etc.) Plurality electoral systems also tend to foster the growth of relatively stable political systems dominated by two major parties (a phenomenon known as “Duverger’s Law”). Elections for the House of Commons in the United Kingdom use the plurality system. Under party list forms of PR, voters normally vote for parties rather than for individual candidates. Under a closed party list system the parties themselves determine who will fill the seats that they have been allocated; voters vote only for a particular party, and then it is up to the party to decide which party members will actually serve as representatives. Legislative elections in Germany are conducted according to such a system. The debate has focused mainly on the choice of an electoral formula and this logical to start with that dimension. The dominant debate in the literature has been between plurality and PR systems. One basic argument in favour of the plurality rule is that it produces one-party majority government, while PR is advocated because it produces broad and fair representation. (LeDuc, 2002). One party government is a good thing for two reasons. They are believed to be more stable therefore enhancing political stability. Although most coalition governments in PR systems are reasonably stable. Germany has one of the most stable governments and economies in the EU...

Bibliography: Bogdanor, V (1984). What is Proportional Representation? A Guide to the Issues, Oxford: Martin Robertson.
LeDuc, L (2002). Comparing Democracies: New Challenges in the study of Elections and Voting. 2nd ed. London: SAGE. p60-88.
Lijphart, A (1994). Electoral Systems and Party Systems. London: Oxford University Press. p150-166.
Kellner, P. (1992). "The Devil-You-Know Factor," Representation, 31 (113): Spring-Summer.
Norris, P. (1995). International Political Science Review. The Politics of Electoral Reform in Britain. 16 (1), p65-78.
Roberts, G (1975). ‘The Federal Republic of Germany’, Adversary Politics and Electoral Reform, London: Anthony Wigram
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