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Advantages of a FPTP system.

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Introduction

Asses the advantages and disadvantages of the "first past the post" system of voting. "First past the post" also known as FPTP is the main system of voting in the United Kingdom, used in both general elections and local elections. It works on the basic principle of "plurality", in essence, whoever has the most votes wins, meaning no clear majority is needed. The electorate vote for their choice on MP in their constituency, and after the votes have been counted, a single elected MP will emerge the winner and represent that whole constituency in the House of Commons. However, as with most political systems and theories, it has its clear advantages and disadvantages, as will be explored in this answer. Perhaps its most distinct advantage is its unambiguous simplicity. It is easy to understand and operate. The ballot paper is simple, the people voting only vote once for a single candidate, and thus party, and the subsequent counting of votes is relatively straightforward compared to other alternatives. It also leads to a fairly clear outcome of the election, as the candidate with the most votes secures their particular constituency, and thus the party with the most seats the majority in parliament, and so form the government. ...read more.

Middle

The single member constituencies used in UK general elections improve the effective representation of the electorate. One member of parliament is responsible for representing the interests of a single constituency area and all the people within its boundaries. This can lead to a strong bond between MP's and their constituents, which perhaps would not be the case with other multimember seats. It creates a clear single "leader" of that constituency, and whom the constituents know to go to. If there were multiple representatives within a single constituency, the public may not know who to go to in what circumstances, and the roles of the individual representatives becomes blurred. This also encourages MP's to act on behalf of all their constituents rather than on a narrow party line. However, it can easily be argued that the first past the post system of voting is seriously flawed, as following. The principle argument against this style of voting, is perhaps the simplest, it's unfair. The number of seats a party wins is not representatives of the number of votes it receives. ...read more.

Conclusion

This problem also leads to the issue of "safe seats" and thus "wasted votes". In a constituency where a party has such a substantial lead over its nearest rival that there is nigh on no chance of it loosing at the next election, then there is practically no point in people who would vote for the opposition even voting, and none of those votes would eventually count in the long run. Many voters have a constituency MP who is not a member of their chosen political party. This raises the questions about the representation of the views of these votes both at local levels, and in the house of commons and central government. Another significant problem with FPTP is that it allows only 1 candidate per party per constituency, leading to a fairly limited choice of representation. For example a labour voter may have to vote for the just the official labour candidate in that constituency even if it may not be the voters first choice. In a multi-member constituency they would thus be able to express a preference of all the parties on offer, and then a specific preference within that party, allowing voters to choose from the right and left of that party, aswell as gender, ethnicity and qualifications etc. ...read more.

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