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In what ways might reform of the voting system bring electoral advantage to the conservative party?

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Introduction

In what ways might reform of the voting system bring electoral advantage to the conservative party? At first glance this proposition might sound quite ridiculous. Not only has first-past-the-post served the Conservative party extremely well for most of the 20th century, but the Conservative's have always been the most outspoken opponents of electoral reform. Thanks entirely to first-past-the-post, the Conservative Party have been in power for two-thirds of the last century. However, the 1997 general election has brought dramatic change to the political landscape. It is generally accepted that first-past-the-post over-represents the two main parties at the expense of the other parties. In four consecutive elections from 1979 to 1992, 42% of the popular vote was enough to give the Conservatives a significant majority of seats in the House of Commons. ...read more.

Middle

They have a significant proportion of the vote, spread thinly across the country, resulting in few seats. The Liberal Democrats went some way to addressing this problem at the last election by concentrating their campaign efforts in specific areas. They are still however severely under-represented. Shortly after the general election a study was ran to 'replay' the general election under different electoral systems. It concluded that the Conservative Party would receive electoral advantage if the 1997 election had been carried out under a List System (pure proportionality) or the Additional Member System, present in Germany. AV (preferred by Labour), STV (preferred by the Liberal Democrats) ...read more.

Conclusion

It is therefore difficult to predict whether AV Plus would be beneficial or not to the Conservative Party. The situation becomes a lot more interesting when looking at other recent elections. The Conservative Party was strongly against the principle of Welsh and Scottish devolution, but it is thanks to devolution that the Conservatives have any representation in Wales and Scotland. Furthermore, it was only thanks to the AMS system used for the elections that the Conservatives had any significant representation. Two-thirds of MPs were elected through first-past-the-post, and one third from a 'top-up' list system. The Conservatives won all 18 of their MSPs and 8 of their 9 AMs through the proportional 'top-up' system. ...read more.

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