Election Notes Essay

Submitted By EliBaruch1
Words: 2860
Pages: 12

What is an election? * A method of filling in office or a post through choice made by a designated body of people; the electorate. * A popular vote in which citizens get a chance to choose their representatives. * Elections should be free, fair and regular (therefore, democratic). e.g. in Britain we hold elections every 4-5 years. * A mandate is given to the winning party at elections. * Universal Suffrage
What are the key functions of elections? * Uphold legitimacy * To choose representatives – b/c country divided into constituencies and representatives chosen by citizens in each. Ensuring representation. * To choose govt & PM – party with maj. of seats e.g. Labour 60% * The electorate gives permission to the governing party to carry out the policies in their manifesto i.e. their mandate. * An example of political participation. By exercising a choice between different political parties it gives us the power to decide in which direction the country will go.
What are the four types of different systems? * Simple majority system – it is not necessary to get over 50% of the vote to win a seat e.g. FPTP. * Majoritarian system – the winning candidate needs to get over 50% of the vote e.g. AV, SV * Proportional system – votes equate to seats e.g. List system, STV * Hybrid system – combines aspects of both Majoritarian and proportional e.g. Additional member system, AV

Where is each system used in the UK? * FPTP – in general elections. * SV – for elected mayor of London. * Additional member system – for electing Scottish Parliament, Irish, Welsh and London Assembly. * List system – for European elections. * STV – in N. Ireland.

How does the FPTP system work? * Voters select a single candidate and do so by marking his or her name with an 'x' on the ballot paper. * The country is divided into 600 single-member constituencies. * Within each constituency each person eligible to vote will have ONE vote. * The winning candidate must get more votes than each of the other candidates, but need not achieve 50% of votes. * The political party with the most winning candidates, and therefore seats, goes on to form the government.
What are the arguments in favour of FPTP? * Clear electoral choice. * It is simple to understand in relation to other systems i.e. voters have one choice only. * The voter can express a view on which party should form the next govt. * Creates strong and decisive govt and no need for coalitions which can be problematic. Helps to ensure that governments can govern. * Stable government. * It provides a strong link between the MP and their constituency in relation to multi-member systems. Constituency representation> * The winning party can claim a mandate in terms of seats. Mandate democracy. * Can contain extremist parties, stopping parties like the BNP from holding any power.
What are the weaknesses of FPTP? * Over-representation of the winning party e.g. in 2005 election Labour won 55% of the seats with just 35% of the votes. Whereas the Lib dems won 9.6 of the votes of the basis of 22% of the vote. * Under-representation of other parties e.g. Lib Dems b/c of regional bias. (Regionalism) * Not completely fool-proof of coalitions. It caused the coalition of 2010 between the Conservatives and the Lib dems. * Wasted votes are an issue because if you do not vote for the winning candidate your vote does not count for anything e.g. 1997, 48.2% of those who voted cast ineffective votes. * Lack of voter choice – party picks candidates and you can only vote for one. If the candidate selected for the party you wish to vote for holds views you strongly oppose it is difficult to choose. * Tactical voting – voting for the least objectionable candidate, or intentionally voting against a particular candidate.
How does the AV…