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Assess the Criticisms of the Various Electoral Systems Used In the UK

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Introduction

Assess the Criticisms of the Various Electoral Systems Used In the UK There are a number of criticisms that can be placed against the various electoral systems that are used in the UK. The criticisms themselves vary with the electoral system against which they are alleged. One of the systems in question is first past the post. Ftpt is used in general elections. Specific criticisms of this system are that the election results do not necessarily reflect the views of the electorate as a whole. This is because the number of seats does not reflect the number of votes cast for them. There have been instances where the winning party has fewer national votes than that of the opposition. One example of this having occurred is in February 1974 in which Labour won with fewer votes overall but more than their opponents. No recent Government has had 50% or more of the votes cast. Those who criticise ftpt claim that the effect of the system is to over represent the winning party. This was shown in 1983 when the conservatives, with 42.4% of the votes, had 61% of the MPs elected in parliament. ...read more.

Middle

This can make it more difficult for the party in question to rule and legislate. Critics also say that the link between representative and their constituents is significantly weakened. The link between constituents and popular known candidates can be damaged or broken. This is because constituents vote for the party as opposed to the candidate themselves. This can lead to the constituents feeling alienated from their representatives. The system also places more power in the hands of the parties. This is because they compile the lists and determine where on the lists candidates will be placed. However, despite these complaints against it, the cpl system is the most proportional system in use in the UK and is therefore the fairest system to all political parties in the running. It also means therefore that votes are not wasted as the electorate vote for their first choice instead of voting tactically for candidates. It also helps minorities to be represented such as women and candidates from ethnic minorities. Another system in use is AMS which is used for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and London Assemblies. It is a hybrid system which combines fptp and the closed party list system. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, STV provides a good connection between votes given and seats allocated. It is also fairer to small parties and minorities as there are in Northern Ireland where it is used. It also gives the voter greater choice as they can choose between candidates from the same party. The Supplementary Vote system is used in London Mayoral elections and allows voters to express a second choice when placing their vote. It has been criticised because it is not proportional. The victor always seems to be the compromise vote with the first preferences not providing a victory. This means that it would provide a "fair" result to a party like the Liberal Democrats which would not be mathematically justified. It would also reward parties that have concentrated support rather than that same support spread across the country like the fptp system. However, the system is more likely to lead to stable majority governments which are favourable in both the eyes of the electorate and politicians. It also maintains the link between constituents and politicians because they are able to vote for a candidate as opposed to a party in general. ...read more.

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3 star(s)

3 stars - In terms of the question asked the essay addresses a thorough range of voting systems, and is logical in describing the relative strengths and weaknesses of each system. Relevant examples are largely applied effectively, though not always consistently, throughout the essay.
Where this piece could be improved would be through greater explanation of the workings of each system, and why the function as they do - this would demonstrate a deeper understanding of the topic. Secondly the essay would benefit from increased analysis and evaluation - the strengths and weaknesses were listed as points rather than being compared and weighed up - there was little direct comparison of the different systems and there was no final conclusion that addressed the overall question directly.

Marked by teacher Dan Carter 10/09/2013

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