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The Plurality System.

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Introduction

Rose Szarowicz 8th Dec 03 The Plurality System This system is called first past the post, and has been used in the UK for centuries. The system has lasted so long in the UK because it has many advantages over other systems available. The system almost always produces a single party government. George Foulkes, a labour MP argued that the government in power is at least making decisions on behalf of the largest majority, whereas with PR, there is an imbalance of power as government decisions are in the hands of small minorities. In 2001 the Labour party had 42% of the vote, and won 2/3rd of the seats, due to them having a majority over other parties. Although this seems not completely fair, it provides them with mandate; a right to govern and rule the whole country. This also makes it a strong government, as they do not have to form coalitions with other parties and share power, they can freely (with opposition from parliament) create laws and policies that they feel are in the best interests of the people. They do not have to compromise on certain policies, and weaken the effects of their choices. The system creates a link between MP's and constituencies. The constituents must vote for a named candidate, who they can meet, and have a closer link with. ...read more.

Middle

This can result in people in these areas voting tactically as they are not in favour of the popular party or they could develop apathy and not bother to vote as 'their vote wont count anyway' as there wont be enough support to enable their party win. The result of this is that marginal seats have too great an importance. As the party knows they have 'safe seats' in certain areas, they don't need to focus campaigns there. But in areas where the support of different parties is fairly equal, they will focus all their campaigning there, trying to get a majority. It could lead them to developing policies that would benefit those areas, to increase the support and the vote. Although having a link between MP's and constituencies can be seen as an advantage, it can also be seen a weakening of government. One MP cannot possibly represent the views of all people living in their constituency, as in every community there are different social, political, economic, ethnic and religious views. One constituency cannot be put under the title of a 'natural community', as the fact they happen to be living in the same area, doesn't mean they will share the same views. Plant (1992) argues that the whole system of dividing the country into 659 constituencies, each having an individual MP to represent their views isn't representative. ...read more.

Conclusion

On top of this they set a report to be done headed by Roy Jenkins in 1997 to investigate alternative methods of voting suitable in the UK. The report published in October 1998 recommended the AV (Alternative Vote) whereby 80-85% of MP's in single member consistencies would use this method. The voters write in their order of preference of MP's, and the votes would be counted. The candidate in first place on the most ballots would win a seat, and the candidate with the least votes in first place would be eliminated. On these ballots, the second preference would be counted. This would continue until one MP has more than 50% of the vote. In 80 constituencies, the top-up system would be used, where the voter can write their preferred party OR candidate. Counting of the votes in this system is very complex. Reform for England hasn't been high on the political agenda again since 1998, and it may be time for the government to look again at how representative our voting system really is. Supporters of PR would find little wrong with the system, and many would say it would do very well in the UK, although it too has its drawbacks. It must be looked into if the advantages of the system outshines its disadvantages. ...read more.

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