At present the British Electoral System is based on the “First Past The Post” system. In this system there are different political parties running for election, hoping to be chosen to run the government, the current parties being “The Labour Party,” the “Conservatives” and “The Liberal Democrats.” These parties promote campaigns outlining different ways in which they ultimately intend to run the countries government. A British Election usually takes place every five years, although in reality they take place more frequently. For parliamentary elections, the UK is divided up into 659 constituencies - 18 in Northern Ireland, 40 in Wales, 72 in Scotland and 529 in England. Each constituency elects a single MP, and each voter casts a single ballot. When the election takes place, the party who wins the highest number of votes, so to speak, wins that election. Only in the very rarest of occasions has a re-count been necessary. As an example; the three main candidates are from the three most prominent national parties . This is the result from the 2001 General Election.
Labour - 9,056,824 (41.1%)
Liberal Democrats-4,246,853 (19.42%)
This is how the “First Past The Post” system works-Labour Party has the most votes, so wins. It is clearly evident that the Labour Party won by approximately 1.5million votes. “First Past The Post” is a cheap and simple way to hold an election as each voter only has to place one cross on the ballot paper, a very easily accessible way to vote, allowing the voter to clearly express a view on which party they think should form the next government. This system also tends to produce a two party system which in turn tends to produce single party governments, which don’t have to rely on other parties to pass legislation. This two party system is where two major political parties dominate voting in nearly all elections. For Britain, these are Labour and Conservatives. One of the parties typically holds a majority in the legislature and is referred to as the majority party. The other party is referred to as the minority party. The platforms of both parties include mostly middle-of-the-road type policies and opinions, due to the desire to identify with a majority of voters, and this may contribute to stability in government policies. Counting of the ballot papers is usually fast and the result of the British election is usually known the very next day after polling. The speed of the process usually allows for a new government to take over power swiftly or if the incumbent government wins the general election, allows for a swift return for the continuation of government without too many disruptions to the political life of the nation. This is an idea the nation likes to adopt- people are often fearful of change and slow to adapt. Another advantage of the system is the link voters have to MP’s. Each MP represents a precise geographical area-a constituency. If a constituent wishes to contact an MP about a problem, they know who turn to- again, making the system an easy way to express voter’s opinions freely.
However there are arguments against the current voting system. Representatives can be elected on tiny amounts of public support. In the 2001 General Election, 9,056,824 voted for the candidate that won that election, but 11,952,723 voted against the winner. In recent years there has been instances where the winner of the election having more people vote against him or her. Therefore that winner can not claim to have the majority support of the people within the constituency concerned. It can be claimed that such a percentage of votes should not have given Labour such large Parliamentary majorities – but the workings of the FPTP system allows for just such an occurrence. In fact, no government since 1935 has had a majority of public support as expressed through votes cast at a national election. A counter argument against this is that in a democracy the winner...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document