First Past The Post Versus Proportional Representation Voting Systems

1383 words - 6 pages

Britain is considering changing current first past the post voting system (FPTP) to proportional representation (PR). The main reason is that FPTP is “quasi-democratic” voting system under which there is only one majority party ruling the government and it does not represent wishes of all voters as some votes are wasted. Whereas, PR seems to be the best alternative voting system with proportionality of seats in mandatory places, more parties ruling government and etc. Let us look at these two voting systems and analyze whether PR is suitable and alternative change for FPTP and do advantages of PR outweigh disadvantages.
First of all, let us start with First Past The Post. FPTP is the current voting system which is used for electing MPs to the House of Commons. Using this voting system voters choose one candidate they wish, by putting a cross in a box next to a candidate’s name. A candidate wins if he or she gets the most votes in the constituency. Plurality voting and Simple majority voting are two other names of FPTP. This voting system is easy to understand and gives voters possible view on which party might win elections. However, Liberal Democrats argue that FPTP has many disadvantages and beneficial only for Labour and Torries. That is why Liberal Democrats proposed an alternative for FPTP, the system named Proportional Representation (PR).
In contrast with FPTP, PR is the concept which is completely different from several electoral systems. It is a new method of voting system where the results of an election depend on the proportion of votes gained by each competing party. The basic idea of this system is that more competing parties, more and better decisions they make.
PR which is in many forms used throughout Europe, has long been proposed by the Liberal Democrats and became supported by many in Britain from the beginning of 1970’s, because of the failure of FPTP in creating a strong majority government. In 1997 Labour pledged a referendum on PR, but it was postponed and it has been argued that two strong political parties, Labour and Torries, would have lost the most if there were any changes in voting systems. If the referendum took place in 1997 elections, Labour majority would have to share, approximately, from 46 seats to 166 MPs with Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrats gained 16,8% of the total votes, but won less than 10% of the total seats.
To clearly understand the concept of PR and how does it work, two most common forms of PR must be evaluated. They are Single Transferable Vote (STV) and Additional Member System (AMS). In Single Transferable Vote (STV) each voter has only one vote. As in the name of the system word “Transferable” occurs, so votes may go from a candidate who is first preference, to the second and continues if there is no opportunity for a preferred candidate to win or a candidate already has enough votes. In this case it is not obligatory to have a majority...

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