However the fact that FPTP has caused a single-party government in every election from 1945-2010 meets the Jenkins criteria of an electoral system creating a stable government. A stable government can be seen as a positive thing because it gives a party a large mandate which allows them to support their manifesto fully. This shows that FPTP can be considered a perfect electoral system in certain situations or places where there are lots of unsuccessful coalition/minority governments, for example Greece. As well as this, FPTP offers a strong MP-constituency link and this is because under this system a constituency has only one MP, therefore the electorate know who their MP is. For this reason, it could be argued that FPTP is perfect for the electorate as they know who to speak to about important issues etc. To further this idea, FPTP could be considered perfect for the electorate because it’s simple to use and understand, compared to other systems such as AMS. Therefore FPTP can be considered as a perfect electoral system because it’s perfect for some places that have poor coalitions – for creating stable governments, and also it offers one MP so it’s simple to use and understand; this could result in a better turnout than other systems, as the electorate wouldn’t be put off by this electoral systems complexity.
Another electoral system used in the UK is STV. This is used in Northern Ireland for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections and it is a multi-member constituency, PR system. STV has two main features: the electorate vote by ranking their candidates in order of preference and also the votes are counted using the ‘droop quota’, By evaluating STV against the Jenkins criteria we see that this is extremely proportional – more so than FPTP. This is evident as in 2007 the DUP gained 36 seats with 30% of the vote and also it has been predicted that if STV had been used in the 2010 general elections the Liberal Democrats would have won 162 seats. Therefore this system could be seen as perfect for smaller parties such as the Liberal Democrats because it is extremely proportional and guarantees them a lot more seats. As STV supplies a multi-member constituency, some people believe a wider range of people are represented and there will be at least one MP who you would feel comfortable talking to or supporting. Therefore it could be argued that STV is better than FPTP and also perfect because it is more proportional, offers more voter choice and also retains the MP-constituency link, therefore it’s perfect for smaller parties and democracy.
On the other hand it could be argued that STV isn’t perfect because it doesn’t achieve all of the Jenkins criteria. STV doesn’t create a stable government as the smaller parties gain more seats so coalition governments are more common. Coalitions are typically viewed as negative governments because it is more difficult to hold a party or representative to account. Also coalitions may lead to polarisation of opinion which may lead to adversarial politics. Therefore this system isn’t perfect either.
The list system is used in the UK to elect MEPS to the European parliament. The list system can also be viewed as being imperfect. Similar to STV, candidates are elected in multi-member regions, however the public simply cast one vote for a party or a candidate – they cannot choose the candidate they want to represent them. Due to this, it could be seen that the MP-constituency link is non-existent as the electorate are given representatives and if a region doesn’t like their representatives they can’t do much about it; they have limited options. This shows that the list system isn’t perfect because it’s imperfect for the electorate as it isn’t very democratic. As well as this, the view that multi-member regions weaken the MP-constituency link is also held because most of the electorate wouldn’t know all their MPs so there wouldn’t be a link at all. Furthermore, the list system doesn’t lead to a stable government because coalitions are usually formed – as previously mentioned this is likely to be a negative outcome of the system, and so causes the List system to be shown as imperfect.
On the other hand, the List system is a lot more proportional than the other systems and this is because it doesn’t have a threshold, so it’s easier for smaller parties to gain seats in larger regions. This is a positive outcome of the List system because it is more democratic than the other systems due to more people’s views being represented. Even though this is a positive effect of the system, in the past extremist parties have gained seats, for example the BNP won two seats in the EU parliament, with 2.1% of the vote. This could cause political tension and also lead to public tension/violence; the fact that the list system is more proportional can be seen as a good and bad thing.
Therefore, judging by the evidence given above, I conclude that there is no such thing as a perfect electoral system because it is hard for one to meet the entire Jenkins criteria, however there is a perfect electoral system for every country, region, situation or political ideology.