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Should the UK reform the Electoral System used for General Elections

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The first alternative type of system is the majority system with two of the most common types of majority system being the Alternative Vote system, the Supplementary Vote system. These systems are very similar with voters ranking candidates in order of preference and the candidate who wins 50% or more wins the election. If no one does gain this 50% the lowest ranked candidate is eliminated and the second preference votes are redistributed till 50% is gained by a candidate. The difference in the Supplementary Vote system is that voters are only allowed to select two preferences. The disadvantage of these systems is that it leads to disproportional support for the centre party, because more often than not if they are not a voter's first choice they would be their second choice. The second type of system is the proportional system, which includes two main types of this system, the List system and the Single transferable Vote system. The List system has varying forms within it, such as the Closed and the Open List system. In the Closed List parties submit a list of candidates for each constituency and then voters vote for parties on their ballot paper. Seats are allocated to parties on the proportion of the vote they win and candidates are given seats by working down the list. In the Open List system candidates are indicated on the ballot paper and then the party vote is determined by how much of the vote their candidates receive. ...read more.


These disadvantages of other voting systems contribute to the debate over reforming the UK general election system and they demonstrate that alternative systems to the plurality system have considerable flaws, which would hinder a political system if it were introduced. Recent progressions in the step to electoral reform also seem to favour the case against reforming the system. In 1990 the Labour Party set up the Plant Commission to investigate possible systems of reform and recommendations were announced with many of these proposals later being introduced. This was however focusing on regional or European elections and it was only later in the Jenkins Report that the issue of reform the electoral system for general elections was addressed. This report suggested introducing preference voting and ranking the candidates with the redistribution of second preference votes after the elimination of the lowest ranked candidate if the 50% margin was not reached. This would only be used for 80-85% of the seats and the remaining 15-20% of the seats would be top-up MPs based on the overall vote each party gets so that parties were not under represented. These recommendations have never been extended beyond the report and there has been an obvious slow in the rush for electoral reform. This is partly down to the cooling of Labour's support for the reforms to be introduced. They initially were enthusiastic about the Jenkins Report but recent experience, such as new systems in Scotland and Wales failing to give Labour any sort of advantage and often hindering them, have altered there view. ...read more.


This demonstrates how the idea of electoral reform, of any sort, has lost its appealing factor and the resigned nature of Mandelson's comments suggest that reform will be left alone for the time being, which favours the anti-reformists case. The case against reforming the electoral system for general elections is strong and it has been demonstrated through the advantages of the current plurality system, as well as the disadvantages of any other possible alternative systems that there is no need for reform and any possible reform introduced would not necessarily improve the political system. Recent experiences also suggest that electoral reform would either not be successful or would not gain the support needed to implement it because the public are not interested in the issue. Despite those favouring reform producing arguments which claim that the plurality system wastes votes, it is the minority's choice and that it could create an electoral dictatorship, the success of the First Passed The Post system is evident and as George Foulkes highlights in his comment, 'Our present voting system at least ensures that government decisions are made by the party which has the most votes, admittedly the largest minority', it is the best choice to produce a strong and reliable government and choices have to be made in politics because you can never find a fully democratic system. ?? ?? ?? ?? Timothy Linehan Politics Essay On Electoral Reform. - 1 - ...read more.

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