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Should the UK reform its system for General Elections?

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Introduction

Should the UK reform its system for General Elections? For centuries Britain has used and adapted the First Past The Post (FPTP) Electoral system. It has been developed through a growing country that is reflected in the unwritten constitution. FPTP is arranged whereby the country is split into constituencies, and any candidate (as long as he/she pays a �500 deposit) may stand to be elected. The candidate with the largest share of votes wins the seat, is elected to Parliament and becomes an MP. The MP has the right to go to every Parliament session and vote on legislation for the four or five year term. The candidate usually stands under a party name. This means when an MP under a party name gets a seat, that party gets a seat. The party with the majority of seats then gains power and becomes the Government. This is called the General Election. The Government is drawn from Parliament and chosen by the PM, they run the country until the next General Election in four of five years time, at the Government's discretion. This system is often called undemocratic and indirect so by analysing its weaknesses and the possible alternatives, it will be possible to determine whether it is desirable to reform the voting system. ...read more.

Middle

N.B. It can be argued that as the electorate votes in the MPs, who in turn vote in the PM, who in turn chooses his cabinet, they are being indirectly represented. The concept of indirect representation shows that power is being taken away from the electorate. As the sole purpose of the General Election is put the government in power that is chosen democratically by the people, FPTP fails to do so in directly democratic manner. This highlights the need for a new electoral system where choice is given, and that choice is honoured directly, so that the system is democratic. The final, and most commonly stated reason for electoral reform, is the bias and disproportionate ratio of votes: seats. Due to the fact that only a majority vote is needed, when three candidates stand, only 34% of the votes is needed. This means that over 60% of the constituency did not vote for the winning candidate. This in-turn means that a party can have well below 50% of the votes, and still gain power. Where marginals and safe seats are concerned, it defies the statement that in a democracy each vote has the same value and importance. ...read more.

Conclusion

The strong MP relationship means that the Executive has communication links with the electorate all over the country, helping the democratic process. The FPTP system also offers a political battleground where ideas can be deliberated. This competition allows the parties to offer the manifesto that will best help the people, and therefore, it is better for the citizens, who get the most helpful and reasonable policies implemented. The simple system has been used for centuries and it is easy to understand. The British public is used to it, and generally accepts the system. There are many critics of the FPTP electoral system used in the UK. There will always be criticisms of the fact that it does not deliver a very democratically elected Government. The reluctance for new countries to take on the system shows its reputation for indirect democracy and often apathy. It could be argues that what the UK needs is a change of its whole political system to a presidential system, possibly encouraging political participation and democracy. However any change is unlikely in the near future as Labour are prospering with huge majorities in the House of Commons. Therefore there is no need for them to change the electoral system even slightly. ...read more.

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