First Past the Post Essay

Submitted By leahaimee
Words: 569
Pages: 3

Discuss the arguments for and against First Past the Post.

First past the post is the name used to describe the single member plurality system or single relative majority system. It is a winner takes all system where each constituency has one single MP for each of the 650 geographical areas. The winner in each seat is the individual who gets the most votes in a sense of more than the second place candidate. A party/MP can win by 1 more votes it does not have to be a majority. There are many arguments in favour of single member plurality systems one being that it produces single party governments and recognisable opposition of which is very strong. This means that coalitions can be unstable and involve horse trading manifesto promises and undemocratic exercise of power by minority groups despite this being rare. Also there is local contact between electors and MP’s. This system also has the ability to sack an under achieving government and this is less true of systems which produce coalitions. Another advantage is that the system suits the non-political people although it can be seen to discriminate against minority parties and it is also thought to marginalise minority extremists. It is the traditional system of voting in the United Kingdom and there are rarely any votes in in constitutional electoral reform. The single relative majority system has been the two main parties preferences since the 1980’s and after labour defeats in the 80/90’s there has been a growing interest in electoral reform and the plant inquiry, set up by Kinnock, it recommended the supplementary system vote. To contrast, there are many arguments against the winner takes all system and one argument against is that there is no straight forward correlation between seats and votes won which can then cause democratic insufficiency. Also votes don’t have equal value as more value is cast to votes in marginal seats, for example, S Tyrone and Hampstead (42 Labour seats). Also another disadvantage is that governments are regularly elected on a minority vote i.e. 50%. Moreover, minority governments can have landslide victories in terms of votes and