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What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of First Past the Post?

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Introduction

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of First Past the Post? First Past the Post (referred to as FPTP) is an electoral system used in the United Kingdom in both general and local elections. It has several characteristics, that can be divided into advantages of the FPTP system and disadvantages of the FPTP system. These are outlined below. Ma major advantage of using FPTP is the sheer simplicity of the systems underlying means of working; it is easy to understand and easy to operate. The system uses a simply-designed ballot paper, in which there is only one vote and the counting of these votes is simple and straightforward. Also, as the system has been in place for such a duration, voters see it as a legitimate and effective way of electing representatives - there is little discontent with FPTP with the public and electoral reform isn't considered as a major issue for the country. ...read more.

Middle

Finally, it can be said that FPTP is a good way of gaining effective representation in single member constituencies, and creates a closer bond between an MP and their constituency, as only one MP is responsible for reach geographical constituency. This avoids the blurring of responsibilities in multi-member councils and encourages MPs to work on behalf of their voters. This result sin the potentially significant "personal vote". However, it can be argued by opponents of FPTP that it as a system is unfair in the way in which it distributes seats, and is disproportionate as the percentage of seats does not accurately match the percentage of votes cast for each party. This means three things: * A party can receive more votes than its closest rival yet win fewer seats. * There is an unfair advantage to the two main parties, and a additional "winners bonus" is given to the election winner. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is also argued that vote are of an unequal value, and that FPTP doesn't conform the "one person, one vote, one value" idea. Differences in constituency size can under and overvalue individual votes. This means that a vote cast in a smaller constituency is more likely to affect the outcome than the same vote in a large constituency. Also, votes that are cast for the losing party are considered "wasted" due to the plurality system, and do not help to elect a candidate. This definition also applies to votes cast to a winning party which turned out to be unneeded for that candidate to win. There is also limited choice in the candidates voters may choose from on ballot papers, and are therefore deprived from an effective choice for representation. Also, FPTP is considered decisive and can encourage political conflict over cooperation, as parties battle to secure votes. In conclusion, FPTP has several advantages and disadvantages as mentioned and discussed above that argue for its continued use or abolition as an electoral system. ...read more.

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