Assess the advantages of the 'First Past the Post' electoral system.

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Assess the advantages of the ‘First Past the Post’ electoral system


The electoral system FPtP is used in the UK’s general elections, which elect a government to run the country for 4-5 years. There is a debate over the problems with FPtP, the main argument being that it’s not representative of the population. In 2011, there was a referendum to replace FPtP with another system, AV. However, FPtP was kept. This is for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that FPtP creates a powerful and decisive (and usually single-party) government, which means the government can do its job – govern. FPtP often gives a party a majority in the House of Commons, increasing their authority and ability to carry out their manifesto.  Because of the majority produced, there is very rarely a coalition government. Coalitions are considered worse than a single-party system as two parties are competing to achieve their own manifesto, and so compromises have to be made in order to run the country successfully without jeopardising their legitimacy, whereas majority governments don’t need to worry about that.

FPtP has produced many strong governments – the Attlee government (1945-51) set up the NHS, and the Thatcher government (1979-90), which was able to make strong decisions based on the fact it had a majority in the Commons.

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However, coalitions work well in other countries (such as Germany), and FPtP does not completely stop coalitions, as shown by the fact that the UK currently has a coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. Indeed, coalitions can be more powerful than single-party governments as they have a larger majority, so are arguably more decisive – the 2010 election gave the coalition a 59% majority, which is the highest since 1935. Coalitions also stop an electoral dictatorship from arising, as one party does not hold all the power.

I think that the strong and decisive government is a key ...

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