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'The British Electoral System has long been admired for its simplicity and its effect in producing strong stable government' In light of this statement assess recent calls for reform of the British system.

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Introduction

Title: 'The British Electoral System has long been admired for its simplicity and its effect in producing strong stable government' In light of this statement assess recent calls for reform of the British system. A system of simple plurality or 'First Past the Post' [FPTP] as it is more commonly known has long been in place in Britain. Its advantages are clear. FPTP is a process renowned for its ease of understanding, as well as its ability to produce strong stable government. However it is not without its critics, who deem it to be unfair, and a disproportional system as 'The share of seat do not reflect the share of votes, and the share of seats do not reflect the share of votes'1. Farrell argues that FPTP is a system of majority not plurality. Rapid changes have taken place since 1997 when Labour recaptured power from the Conservatives. These changes pose further questions about the intricate workings of the current electoral system and there is ongoing analysis of whether further change should be introduced. To this end I hope to thoroughly evaluate the current electoral system, and establish whether this model should remain in place or whether recent calls for reform are merited. ...read more.

Middle

FPTP rewards parties with a concentrated political following and punishes those whose support is evenly distributed. This is one of the greatest challenges of the system and one, which the Liberal Democrats know only too well. They are the constant victims of FPTP, as the amount of seats gained is rarely in proportion to the amount of total votes received. This is primarily a geographical factor. As I have already mentioned, FPTP penalizes thinly spread belts of support. It is only when figures are accumulated nationally that we can detect the levels of distortion, which occur. The system is believed to be largely biased in Labours Favour as there is greater disproportionately at regional level than for the country as whole. FPTP causes a great amount of vote wastage. This factor encourages voter apathy as some people may never get to see their chosen candidate in power. In order to gain a seat a candidate does not need to gain all or even an overall majority, they simply need more votes than any other candidates. The votes, which are used on competing candidates are then wasted votes, as they cannot be transferred to other member via a top-up situation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Labours campaign promise was to radically overhaul the electoral system. The cynic in all of us, could argue that this was a clever campaigning tactic. Target the apathetic voter, illustrate the dramatic need for change and sway the electorate with convincing reform policies. Whilst some reforms have been brought about, there is a need for further change, which can only be introduced through a referendum. On the other hand, any new reforms will alienate FPTP from its founding beliefs and render it a simple plurality system in name only. In elections candidates who are not successful have tendencies to cry foul. It is little more than that in the case of Britain. Huge changes have been made to the system already, granted changes that were well overdue. Whether Britain is ready for a complete system overhaul is another question, but electoral reform organisations are working on ideas, until a referendum is put to the nation no concrete changes can be made. FPTP will remain firmly in place with little prospect of changing before the next general election. There is current speculation that Labour may have a new leader during the next term. If successful. Perhaps this will be someone with the knowledge to address this highly contentious issue. ...read more.

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