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Examining Case For Electoral Reform Essay

1700 words - 7 pages

Examining Case for Electoral Reform

The electoral system; the ways and means of electing a party or
candidate to power. Elections are at the forefront of democracy being
that they represent the peoples choice over indifference and
dictatorship, put crudely a consensus of the majority view. But how
fair are the different systems of voting, of which there are over
three hundred, either actually in existence or potentially available?
And is the current method of voting in the UK fair to all political
parties, or does it favour some more than others?

This question asks us in part, to evaluate our current electoral
system, First Past The Post, which is a majoritarian approach and
proportional representation, an aim not an electoral system. First
past the post, based on single member constituencies, requires the
winning candidate to gain a simple majority of votes in their
constituency. Then the party with an absolute majority of seats forms
a government in the House of Commons. First Past The Post is used in
local, national and European elections in the United Kingdom. This
voting system is one of the many single member systems that are
available along with the Supplementary Vote and the Alternative vote
system. Overall all voting systems can be organised into three
categories; 'Single member systems', 'multi-member systems' and 'mixed
systems (otherwise known as hybrids).

One of the salient and desirable features of any electoral system
should surely be a degree of stability of government. On the whole the
UK's current plurality (or FPTP) system has given the British
political system stability based on clear majorities so that the
programmes of governments as set out in their manifestos can be
implemented unlike a coalition. During the two World Wars it was
necessary to form a coalition government being the National
Government, but in reality it was really the conservative government
and could not be used as conclusive evidence for coalitions. As a poll
showed (BBC 1997); the British people, in fact, understand and welcome
the present electoral system because for all its drawbacks it does
provide effective government. This is preferred to a purely
mathematical representation.

Another reason is that it provides strong government based on clear
political agenda. Even though governments today can be termed 'largest
organised minorities', voters are aware that under the present
electoral system they are electing a government with a defined
programme. The doctrine of the mandate based upon the manifesto of the
governing party is rightly regarded with suspicion but at least it is
a rough yardstick by which the Governments performance can be judged
at the next election. This is possibly one of the reasons that the
Major government was not re-elected after it broke manifesto...

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