FPTP is a simple plurality system which means that the winner is the candidate who gains the most votes. Some may argue that it should be abolished in favour of Proportional representation because it is will provide the government with more legitimacy. However, I am of the opinion that it should be retained because it produces a strong government. Proportional representation would produce a weak and ineffective government because it will create coalitions.
FPTP should be retained because it produces a strong government. This electoral system ensures that the winning party has a majority in the commons because they must win at least 326 seats out of 650. This will ensure that the government is able to make decisions based around its manifesto without having to make deals or compromise with other parties. For example, Blair’s government of 1997 was successfully able to make education their number one priority by reducing pupil-teacher ratios and class sizes in primary and secondary schools. Moreover, he increased per pupil funding by 48% and the government increased spending on education to £1.2bn every week. Therefore FPTP allows the government to fulfil its mandate as there is little stalemate when it comes to implementing their manifesto.
However, some may argue that FPTP needs to be replaced with proportional representation. This is because although a government elected under FPTP will have a majority in the Commons they rarely achieve this through gaining a majority of the votes. They get less than 50% which means that they are ruling with a minority of the vote. No single party since 1931 has won 50% of the national vote. Consequently, the government lacks legitimacy as more people vote against them than for them. On the other hand, with proportional representation governments are invariably supported by at least 50% of the electorate. Therefore some may argue that FPTP should be replace by proportional representation because it ensures a popular mandate and the government will have more legitimacy than one elected by FPTP.
FPTP should be retained and not replaced by proportional representation because it produces coalition governments. This is because with PR the percentage of votes cast equals the percentage of seats gained and to form a government a party needs over 50%. As this is unlikely the party with the most votes often needs to form a coalition with another party. This creates an unstable government because coalitions collapse easily due to the internal divisions. Therefore they are less likely to return for a full term in office. Whereas, FPTP produces a stable government because the government is not undermined by coalition deals which can create insecurity. Consequently they are able to serve a full term in office. Thus it can be seen that FPTP should be retained because it produces a stable government, unlike PR.
However, proportional representation is a better electoral system than FPTP because it promotes democracy. This is because PR widens effective electoral choice because a larger number of parties have the prospect of winning or sharing power. With FPTP votes for minor parties are ‘wasted’ because their support is not concentrated in enough constituencies for them to gain the seats needed to win. Moreover, the existence of safe seat makes it pointless to vote for other parties within a particular constituency (e.g. Kensington is a conservative safe seat). On the other hand, PR means that votes for a small party are not wasted because all votes are equal (small parties are not underrepresented). Therefore some may argue that FPTP should be replaced by PR because it promotes democracy. FPTP makes votes unequal because votes in a marginal seat are of more value than those in safe seats.
FPTP should be retained because it keeps out extremist parties. It’s unlikely that any extremist groups will win a seat because they…