• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline the problems of the First Past the Post system and consider whether the Alternative Vote would provide a fairer system.

Extracts from this document...


Coursework 2 British Politics Question: The Coalition Government has proposed that a referendum be held in May 2011. The question that will be asked is concerned with the changing of the electoral system used in British General Elections - the Simple Plurality System (FPTP) to the Alternative Vote. Outline the problems of the "First Past the Post" system and consider whether the Alternative Vote would provide a fairer system. Word count: 967 12/16/2010 Coursework In most of the modern societies an electoral process is an important symbol of a democracy that represents a concept of freedom of choice and fairness. The UK Coalition Government is now facing a need of reforming the process by choosing between FPTP and AV systems. As final decision can affect the whole society, it is crucial to carefully analyze advantages and disadvantages of both systems. FPTP allows a candidate to win by the majority of votes. It is a straightforward system that requires comparatively simplified procedures. In addition, it usually provides stable and strong one-party government. ...read more.


In the 2010 election Liberal-Democrats had 23 per cent of vote, but 9 per cent of the seats (BBC news 2005). Disproportional system also leads to another issue. Although this system excludes extremist parties, it also limits small parties. For instance, Green party has only one MP. In a proportional system 1% of this party should equal 6 seats and UK Independent Party's 3% should equal to 18 seats, but they actually have zero seats (Lowe et al. 2010, p.115). FPTP can also cause an "elective dictatorship" of one party. Ones a party get elected it has a power to dictate for five years. Furthermore, undeniable option calls - the power of dissolution that gives a right to the Prime Minister to ask The Queen for a general election when it is comfortable for his party - is a comparatively unfair advantage for the party with such a right (Lowe et al. 2010, p.108). Alternative Vote (AV) system is quite different from First-past-the-post. In AV system candidates have to gain more than 50% to win, candidates with fewer votes are eliminated. ...read more.


The good thing of Coalition Parliament is that it is hardly to be elective dictatorship (Coxall et al. 2003, Jones and Norton 2010). It is very important to consider other factors when deciding on which system is better. According to the research, the problem of wasted votes and disproportional allocation become more serious year by year (P. Whiteley 2010). The statistics shows that turn out in UK is increasing during 2001 - 2010 year coming to the level of 65.1%. In addition, elections require huge spending from the government and parties (UK political Info 2010a, 2010b, Jones and Norton 2010). As UK government is currently facing a need to cut the budget up to 40%, AV is not a useful method (Pollwatch 2010, J. Bingham 2010). To sum up, AV system adoption is a quite controversial question. Although AV system is solving some problems of FPTP system and providing fairer conditions for candidates and electors, adoption of this system can be quite difficult for the UK Coalition Government in term of budget and time spent. In my opinion, it is better to retain current election system as careful analysis is required. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Response to the question

The student answers the question very well. This is reflected in the essay's structure: they deal with FPTP in one section and AV in the next, but they subdivide both sections into pros and cons. This shows that they understand ...

Read full review

Response to the question

The student answers the question very well. This is reflected in the essay's structure: they deal with FPTP in one section and AV in the next, but they subdivide both sections into pros and cons. This shows that they understand the need to think widely about every issue and consider both sides of the argument, and it also shows they can organise their knowledge in an essay. The student stays on task for the whole piece by always talking about voting systems, which is good as it shows they have enough knowledge to answer the set question.

Level of analysis

The student shows an excellent understanding of how the voting systems work, which shows they are knowledgeable and they have the capability to understand complex systems. Before revising the pros and cons of each, spend a couple of hours making sure you can explain the main voting systems - FPTP, AV, STV, PR, others taught in class - to show that you have that key knowledge. Some of the evidence used in this essay is good: for example, the student points out that "65%" of votes were wasted, showing that they understand that this is a high number. This is better than saying "lots of votes were wasted", as "lots" could mean anything: the statistic proves that the student has knowledge. However, the level of analysis could be improved: the student doesn't actually explain what "wasted" means, so they are not showing enough understanding. It would be better to say "...65% of votes were cast in safe seats where the outcome was almost certain, so the electorate's votes were wasted", as you are getting in an explanation rather than just words or evidence. The conclusion to the essay is good as it reaches a judgement, which shows that the student can look back over what they have written and assess it to find which interpretation they think is correct. It is especially good in an essay like this to come up with a strong conclusion, as it is an issue that was recently in the news - having an opinion would show you are knowledgeable and well-informed.

Quality of writing

The quality of this essay's writing is poor. The student makes reference to "AV system" or "FPTP system" when they should always say "the AV system" or "the FPTP system", because referring to two key concepts incorrectly suggests the student isn't knowledgeable about the subject. Furthermore, there are several spelling mistakes, such as "save seats" which should be "safe seats": this also suggests to the examiner that the student can't express key concepts themselves, so always proof read before finishing your essay.

Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by lordharvey 24/04/2012

Read less
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Impact of government policies

    3 star(s)

    As they are under strict orders they are unable pick and choose where they serve or when they serve. The risks the services have are far reaching as there is a great chance of soldiers who are in combat or in an area of global uncertainty losing their lives.

  2. To what extent are judges neutral and independent?

    This is starting to become less evident as more judges from less privileged backgrounds take over - meaning that more liberal judges willing to criticise the government such as Lords Woolf, Hoffman and Bingham are entering the fray and making sure that judicial bias does not affect the rulings of

  1. Is Britain an elective dictatorship?

    Insufficient time and poor resources have meant that it has become more ineffective. Most analysts agree that select committees have done little to change the balance of power between the executive and legislative. Reformers suggest that they can be made more effective, by giving them larger budgets, more powers, more access to documentation, and greater powers to interrogate ministers.

  2. Free essay

    Assess the strengths and weaknesses of proportional representation compared to First Past the Post. ...

    a true mandate, potentially every single decision to be made would have to be discussed and hammered out during lengthy parliament sessions similar to the debating that goes on in the House of Lords.

  1. The Cabinets role in decision making has been marginalised in recent governments

    'bank bailout' proposal made by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor and other senior economic advisors - if the remainder of the Cabinet had not backed such a plan, then it would have led to wish-washy economic leadership, resulting in a further loss of confidence and the subsequent deepening of the recession.

  2. Taoiseach VS Primer Minister

    ? However, Ireland and Britain are both currently in coalition governments and this has a huge impact on the Taoiseachs and Prime Ministers control over their cabinets. For example the current Irish Cabinet is lead by Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, however his party is in a

  1. Advantages of a FPTP system.

    Even if they achieve a small lead over their opposition, it may lead to a significant gain of seats. For example at the 1992 general election the conservatives took 41.8% of the vote, yet that transpired into over 50% of the actual seats, allowing them to form a strong efficient government.

  2. Evaluate the effectiveness of the various ways in which participation and democracy could be ...

    that if one chooses note to vote, it is their own personal loss. On the other hand, many believe that casting a ballot for pure personal gain, which is essentially what incentive voting can be seen to promote, is arguably worse than complete non-involvement.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work