Comparing Electoral Processes in Uk Essay example

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Electoral Systems in the UK

There are two main types of electoral system in the UK:
First Past the Post (FPTP) & Proportional Representation (PR)

First Past the Post (FPTP);

FPTP is the voting system used for the election of MPs to 'seats' in the UK Parliament. It is a system in which the 'winner takes all' and usually gives a clear majority both at constituency and national level. This means that a candidate in a constituency only needs one more vote than the nearest rival to win the seat. Similarly, political parties only need to win one more seat in the House of Commons to have a majority.

Advantages of FPTP;

There is very little chance of extremist parties being elected to Parliament under FPTP because they are
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As a result, there is a far greater degree of proportionality; the number of seats more accurately reflects the number of votes cast for each party.

The number of constituency seats won under the First Past the Post-election and the number won under the Additional Member System in Scotland in 1999 were:
Party Constituency Seats Regional or ‘List’ Seats Total
Labour 53 3 56
Liberal Democrat 7 28 35
Scottish Nationalist 0 18 18
Independent 1 2 3

In the 2003 Scottish Parliament results Labour still did better than the other parties, with 50 of the 129 seats and just over 33% of the constituency vote and 29.3% of the regional list vote. However other parties gained, too: the Conservatives got 18 seats with just over 15% of the vote, the Greens won 7 seats and the Scottish Socialists won 6 seats. The Liberal Democrats again came fourth with 17 seats but remained part of the Executive in coalition with Labour.

PR encourages coalition governments, where different parties can work together as part of the Executive. This encourages a less confrontational form of politics because of the need for coalition parties to co-operate. This also means that there are fewer dramatic changes in policies as the two parties tend to keep a balanced 'middle way'.

Under PR in Scotland, constituencies are multi-party. This means that several different parties can be represented which gives voters a choice of MSPs