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What have been the effects of the use of proportional electoral systems in the UK?

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Introduction

What have been the effects of the use of proportional electoral systems in the UK? Currently, the only pure forms of proportional representation used in the UK are the closed party list system, used to elect M.E.Ps, and the single transferable vote technique used in general elections in Northern Ireland. However, the additional member system, which combines elements of the first past the post and the closed party list systems is implemented in the Welsh and Scottish regional assemblies. The single transferable vote system is appropriate for use in Northern Ireland, where difficult cultural differences often cause community divides. Constituents order the candidates in preference, and the results of the election decide the politicians who will represent each multi-member constituency. In constituencies with both catholic and protestant regions, it is almost certain that both a catholic and protestant MP will be elected. This is a major advantage, as constituents in Northern Ireland often feel more comfortable discussing their concerns with an MP of the same religion and thus the single transferable vote system has had a positive effect on MP community links in Northern Ireland. ...read more.

Middle

They can do so by threatening to join the opposition party and thus "overthrow" the current major party in the coalition. Since candidates must order the candidates in order of preference, it could be said that the STV system encourages tactical voting, in which the electorate will not actually vote for their preference rather against the party they dislike the most. In systems where only one vote can be cast, the selection of the voter is likely to be more genuine. This being said, tactical voting can occur within any system including first past the post. The additional member system used in the election of Scottish and Welsh assemblies consists of two ballots. The first, is conducted using the first past the post system and is responsible for deciding which politician will represent a constituency. The ratio of constituency MPs and additional member MPs varies from country to country. However, in Scotland and Wales 66% are linked with a constituency. ...read more.

Conclusion

Currently there is a labour/liberal democrat coalition in the Scottish Assembly. The D'hondt formula is also implemented when calculating which parties should be allocated additional member MPs based on the party list vote. This improves proportionality by giving priority seats to parties with a large number of votes that are spread out over constituencies (usually the conservative and green parties in Scotland). This has lead to less well known parties, who have a large following nationally, gaining seats. An example is the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity party, who gained one seat through the list system and D'hondt calculation. The closed party list system used to elect the UK's members of European parliament has had many similar effects as the AMS system used to elect Welsh and Scottish assemblies. One main difference between the two closed list ballots is that for the election or MEPs there are no constituencies. The main effect is a high degree of proportionality. However, as discussed in relation to the AMS close party list ballot, the system is undemocratic in that voters have no choice of the candidates chosen to represent the voters selected party. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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Response to the question

The response to the question is good - his/her ideas are set out clearly and explained in detail. The candidate's response generally focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of differing electoral systems and not their effect, and s/he may be ...

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Response to the question

The response to the question is good - his/her ideas are set out clearly and explained in detail. The candidate's response generally focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of differing electoral systems and not their effect, and s/he may be penalised for not fully addressing the question, and to ensure that others don't do this, I recommend highlighting or underlining key words in the question, and re-reading it at the start of each paragraph of the essay to make sure that you're staying on topic.

Level of analysis

The analysis in this candidate's essay is of a very high standard. Their discussion of the religious issues surrounding the single transferable vote in Northern Ireland is particularly strong; s/he explains the consequences of a proportional system in a fractured community very well. The candidate contrasts the advantages and disadvantages of the electoral systems well, and includes both of the purely proportional systems in use, and also the hybrid AMS, showing that they understand all of the different systems used in the UK. However, there is little analysis on the effects of proportional systems, as previously mentioned.

Quality of writing

The candidate writes well, communicating their ideas clearly and backing them up with well-reasoned arguments. They generally structure the argument well, but the lack of a strong conclusion means the end of the essay is a little disappointing. As with many other essays I've seen, grammatical and subject-specific accuracy is sometimes a stumbling block for candidates, and they must proofread their essays. Even though examiners will mostly overlook small mistakes, if they are made often enough then it may affect the candidate's performance. Some examples of these minor mistakes include the candidate referring to the Additional Member System as being used in the "Welsh and Scottish regional assemblies", however Scotland's devolved body has always been a Parliament; and failing to capitalise the names of political parties.


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