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Should the Westminster Electoral System be Reformed?

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Introduction

´╗┐Should the Westminster Electoral System be Reformed? The First Past the Post system is used in the UK to elect representatives for constituencies into the Westminster Parliament. The system is a plurality system; candidates need a simple majority to win a seat, which is considered disproportionate by some. However is it is apparent that the system should not be reformed. One argument in favor of the reformation of the system is evoked from the disproportionality of the system, in terms of distribution of seat compared to votes won. In the 2010 General Election the winning party, the Conservatives, won 36% of the votes but were awarded 47% of the seats, whereas the Liberal Democrats won 23% of the votes but were awarded only 9% of the seats. This clearly illustrates the disproportional distribution of seats in the system. In a study by the Electoral Reform Society they illustrated that with the Single Transferable Vote system the results of the election would be far more proportional. ...read more.

Middle

Tactical voting is a term used to describe a vote cast in favour of a party, which is not the voters first preference, because the electorate does not wish for the most likely party to win to represent them, so the electorate will vote for the party they think has the best chance in beating the leading party. Lastly is the argument that under the current system of the Westminster parliament, governments may be established without an absolute majority of the votes but because they have an absolute majority of seats they effectively have a mandate to rule. An example of this is in 2005, Labour won the election with an absolute majority of seats but only 35% of the votes cast. This shows that the majority of voters in the UK did not want Labour to win. Although there are arguments in favour of reforming the current Westminster electoral system, consisting of disproportionality, choice for voters and legitimacy. ...read more.

Conclusion

An exception to this is the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition formed as a result of no party achieving an absolute majority in the 2010 general election. Even though this contradicts the argument of FPTP forming a decisive government, it is still argued that they hold a legitimate mandate to rule with a decisive 59% of seats in the House of Commons. Lastly, the current electoral system maintains a strong constituency link between voters and their MP?s. This is important as it means MP?s are more able to understand the issues of the people in their constituency and, if appropriate, help them. This constituency link is a result of small constituencies with only a single MP for each. The constituency link is not as prominent in other electoral systems such as the Party list, which have multi member constituencies. In conclusion the FPTP system, currently used as the Westminster electoral system, is the most appropriate in terms of simplicity, government stability, government legitimacy and a strong constituency link. Therefor the Westminster electoral system should not be reformed. ...read more.

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