What are the alternatives to our electoral system?

After the surprising Conservative majority of this year’s general election, there seems to be a mass amount of people who believe our current electoral system, First Past the Post (or FPTP), is unfair and undemocratic? I am one of those people and I wish to discuss the alternative systems and how our current one works.
Our electoral system (as mentioned above is FPTP) works in the following ways:

A candidate requires a plurality of votes to win (that is one more than the second placed candidate). However, unlike other systems such as the Alternative Vote (which we had a referendum on in 2011) does not require the candidate to win more than 50% of the vote to win.

Electors cast a single vote by placing a cross (x) next to the name of their preferred candidate (note that FPTP does NOT allow preferential voting).

MPs are elected in single member constituencies (unlike in the European Parliament where we have multi-member constituencies). Constituencies are roughly the equal size (70,000 electors).

The main flaw of our FPTP electoral system is how our votes are only counted in our constituency. So my vote in my constituency does not count towards the entirety of the UK, this is why the Green Party, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats did shockingly in this election, they had many voters. However, due to our electoral system, their votes only counted in their constituency thus, due to the majority of people not voting for smaller parties’ means that a vote can be wasted. 

There are many other electoral systems used around the world that we could adopt, here are a few:
(M) = Majoritarian (Pr) = Proportional 
(M) Alternative Vote (Used in Australia’s lower house, the House of Representatives and for electing leaders in the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrat Party):

  • Representatives are elected in single member constituencies
  • The winning candidate MUST achieve an overall majority of the votes cast
  • Voters indicate their preferences by writing ‘1’ beside the name of their first choice, ‘2’ next to theis second, etc.

If no candidate secures an absolute majority of first preferences, the lowest-placed candidate is eliminated, and the eliminated candidates voters, second preferences are transferred to the remaining candidates
This continues until one candidate reaches a majority of the votes in the constituency.
(M) Supplementary vote (Used in London mayor elections and a variant of the Alternative Vote)
The elector has 1 vote and records their 1st and 2nd preferences on the ballot paper
If no candidate wins a majority of first preferences, all but the two candidates are eliminated, and the second preference votes for the remaining two candidates are added to their first preference votes
Candidate with highest total is elected
(PR) Regional list system (used for European Parliament in England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland)
Representatives are elected in large multi-member regions. There are 11 regions in Great Britain electing between 3 and 10 MEPs
Political parties draw up a list of candidates, in the order in which they will be elected.
Electors cast 1 vote for a political party or an Independent candidate, people cannot choose the candidate they like from a political party in a closed list, but can in an open list.
Seats are allocated according to the proportion of votes won by each political party in the region
(PR) Single Transferrable Vote (used in Northern Ireland for elections in the Assembly, local government and the European Parliament. Used in General Elections in the Republic of Ireland and in Scottish local elections)
Representatives are elected in large multi-member constituencies
Voting is preferential (like in the Alternative Vote)
Electors can make as many preferences as they like
A candidate MUST achieve a quota to be elected that quota is: ((Total number of valid (unspoilt)votes cast in an election)/(Seats+1)) +1
If no candidate reaches the quota on their first count, the lowest placed is eliminated and the second preferences are transferred, the process of elimination continues until the quota is met.
All of the systems above as you can see are all used in the UK. So why haven’t we adopted a fair one for the arguably most important election, the General Election? Election results in these electoral systems have been shown to increase the amount of representatives for smaller parties that are vital for keeping our elections democratic and alive, the results have also resulted in fewer people voting tactically, which is undemocratic and it has given the choice for people to find a party that represents them, the rise of small parties ends the question “who should I vote for?”. We, the people need to have our votes counted nationally, we need electoral reform, and we need it as soon as possible. The only parties that support Electoral Reform are the small parties such as the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Greens.

By: Leon Ross17, Politics student (as well as English and Religious Studies student), lefty and wanting to study International Relations

What are the alternatives to our electoral system? What are the alternatives to our electoral system? Reviewed by Admin on 12:09 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. The New Scientist ran an interesting article about 2 years ago analyzing about 6 or 7 different voting systems.
    The conclusion was that there is NO fair system that would satisfy all conditions. People seem to think that
    PR is fair but it is one of the more unfair methods. Too many people jump to conclusions without first analyzing
    the subject and have no real idea what they are advocating. But the loudest not most wise voice wins out.


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