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Assess the extent to which the 2010 election illustrated the advantages and disadvantages of the FPTP system

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Introduction

´╗┐Assess the extent to which the 2010 election illustrated the advantages and disadvantages of the FPTP system In this essay I will attempt to explore the First Past The Post system that is currently operating in the UK and how it affected the 2010 general election. Some of the key features of FPTP or 'simple majorities in single member constituencies,' are as follows; Each constituency returns only one Member of Parliament, each party may only nominate one candidate in each constituency, voters have only one vote each and most significantly if a candidate receives the largest number of votes then they are elected . This is known as gaining a simple majority or plurality. It therefore is not necessary to obtain 50 per cent or more of the votes to become elected in any given constituency. The aftermath of the election allowed the observation of the respective advantages and disadvantages exhibited by one of the most important and unusual election in British political history. One advantage of the FPTP system that was apparent in the 2010 general election was the fact that extremist political parties were effectively excluded from being elected to Parliament as they were incredibly unlikely to attain any votes in any one constituency. ...read more.

Middle

Third parties often wither away and almost never reach a level of popular support. This has been evident in the last three decades as the Labour party, traditionally of the 'left' and the Conservative party, traditionally of the 'right.' have entirely dominated the elections. It is generally agreed that the FPTP system helps contribute occasionally to close and exciting elections between the two main parties and in turn this could potentially lead to higher turnouts in some constituencies where the contest is obviously close and could swing either way. On the other hand, the 2010 election also has shown the negative side of the FPTP system. This disadvantage has also been publicised in other general elections as well across the world. It relates to the number of votes cast for a party and how they are not accurately reflected in the number of seats won. Essentially, it excludes smaller parties from gaining 'fair' representation. For example, in the 2010 election the Liberal Democrats attained a figure of 23% of the total votes cast in the country. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some leading Liberals urged Liberal Democrat supporters to turn to Labour in constituencies where their own party is unlikely to win. This may be due to Labour and the Lib Dems having more in common than the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. In conclusion, the 2010 election was a very unique and strange event as it displayed different advantages and disadvantages of the FPTP. It resulted in an anomaly in the form of a coalition meaning that it failed to give one party an overall majority in the House of Commons. This in turn has led to the government lacking in decisiveness because of the many diverse opinions held by the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. The FPTP system also excludes smaller parties so they can never win any constituencies meaning that the people they represent in society are under-represented. However this can sometimes be a positive concept of this system as extremist parties like the BNP who are known to be racist in the media are very unlikely to win any constituencies. The FPTP is also very practical, easy to use and understand. Overall the FPTP system has many benefits but it also has quite a few disadvantages. It is arguably the best possible political voting system we have at our disposal. ...read more.

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