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Reforming United Kingdom's Electoral System Essay

1816 words - 7 pages

Reforming United Kingdom's Electoral System

For centuries Britain has used and adapted the First Past The Post
(FPTP) Electoral system. It has been developed through a growing
country that is reflected in the unwritten constitution. FPTP is
arranged whereby the country is split into constituencies, and any
candidate (as long as he/she pays a £500 deposit) may stand to be
elected. The candidate with the largest share of votes wins the seat,
is elected to Parliament and becomes an MP. The MP has the right to go
to every Parliament session and vote on legislation for the four or
five year term. The candidate usually stands under a party name. This
means when an MP under a party name gets a seat, that party gets a
seat. The party with the majority of seats then gains power and
becomes the Government. This is called the General Election. The
Government is drawn from Parliament and chosen by the PM, they run the
country until the next General Election in four of five years time, at
the Government's discretion. This system is often called undemocratic
and indirect so by analysing its weaknesses and the possible
alternatives, it will be possible to determine whether it is desirable
to reform the voting system.

There has been much talk in favour of reforming the voting system
mainly because FPTP is, in places, undemocratic and bias. The first
report of the suggestion of reformation came from the Jenkins' Report,
1988. It stated that FPTP tends to disunite rather than unite our
country. This is mainly because it exaggerates opinions and movements
and concentrates support.

When a party wins a seat, that constituency is represented by
(affiliated to) that party. This means that trends appear where groups
of constituencies close to one another are represented by the same
party. This results in a concentration of support. For example:
traditionally, the South East, where the general population is
wealthier than that of other areas, has supported the Conservatives.
With geographical trends like these, areas of the country go without
representation in Government for long periods of time. Areas such as
the South West which has a strong Liberal Democrat history, has never
been represented in Government, and so the system can be said to be
unfair and undemocratic. Secondly, our electoral system is said to be
democratic, yet the third party (Liberal Democrats) gets a
disproportionate amount of seats in comparison to the vote. Not only
does First Past The Post make it very hard for the Liberal Democrats
to get a seat (one seat cost them over 90,000 votes in 2001), but as
they are not in Government, the Party's manifesto cannot be carried
out and so they are not ever represented fully. This raises the
question that with a more representative system: would Liberal
Democrats and their...

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