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Distinguish between the effects of FPTP and other electoral systems in the UK

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Introduction

Distinguish between the effects of FPTP and other electoral systems in the UK In the UK, FPTP is used to elect MPs into Parliament during general elections, however for devolved states and local governments, different types of electoral systems are used, namely the Single Transferable vote for the Northern Ireland Assembly, Open Regional List systems to elect MEPs and the Additional Member System for the election of members of Scottish Parliament. Each of these different systems have unique features, but as they all stem from proportional representation, the effects of these systems are highly similar the most important being the tendency to produce no overall majority, a more proportional split between votes and seats, and an increase in legitimacy of government and their mandate to govern. One of the most important effects of FPTP is that it normally produces a strong effective government with a clear majority. This can be seen in the 1997 election results where Labour gained a majority of 179 seats! The largest majority in British politics to date. At the time, this meant Labour could pass laws effectively without fierce opposition and implement the many reforms stated in their manifesto. ...read more.

Middle

The BNP may have many supporters nationally, but electors who vote for them may find their vote wasted in many cases because other parties the BNP are standing for win. This produces an unfair weighting of votes, where those in marginal seats determine the outcome of the results as a whole. It is therefore unfair and undemocratic thus questioning the legitimacy of government. However, PR seems to be producing the almost opposite effect in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections 2007. Due tot eh use of STV, the Progressive Unionist Party were able to gain one seat in the Assembly even though they only had 0.6% of first preference voting. There is likelihood therefore for smaller parties to gain the respective number of seats under PR. Similarly, apart from wasted votes, FPTP also produces votes of unequal value for example in May 2010; the Liberal Democrats had an average of 120,000 votes to one seat whereas the Conservatives only needed 35,000 votes to gain one seat. This is disproportionately unfair because the number of seats given do not reflect the number of votes cast, one of the main drawbacks of FPTP, this therefore diminishes the chance of small parties obtaining power. ...read more.

Conclusion

This would mean that people may become more disillusioned with politics and hindered from raising their views to representatives. With all these factors into consideration between FPTP and PR, the question of the government's mandate to govern can also be raised. Under FPTP, no government has gained a majority of over 50% of votes. This means that their mandate to govern can be called into question; if they do not have even over half of the support in the UK then they should surely not be allowed to govern on behalf of the whole adult population. In 1997, Labour's landslide victory, they had 43% of the vote but 63.4% of the seats in the Commons. This is highly undemocratic and produces a Commons that does not accurately represent the political views of society in the UK. If other electoral systems like AMS or the list system were implemented, at least some minority parties like UKIP would have a chance of power and some seats rather than none, because in Parliament, one vote for or against could make a huge difference. ...read more.

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