By Ryan, Jean, Kiera, Alice, Stephanie,
Elle, Connor and Elliott.
STV is used in local authority elections in Scotland and in the Northern Irish assembly.
In an STV election the parties can stand more than one candidate and voters have more than one
vote. They rank candidates in order of preference putting a 1 for favourite and so on, depending on
how many candidates there are.
Votes get divvied out depending on first preference votes, and if a certain quota is reached at this
point, the winner is now a councillor. If not, the votes are continued to be divvied out until someone
The quota is: Number of votes cast + 1 divided by number of votes cast in the constituency.
Advantages and Disadvantages of STV – FAIRNESS & UNDEMOCRATICNESS
STV allows voters to choose within parties. Parties will usually nominate more than 1 candidate
for election. This gives the voter more choice. In the 2007 local council elections, in the Bridge of
Don ward the Lib Dem candidates Gordon Leslie and John Reynolds came 2nd and 3rd, and in AMS
it would normally be only one Lib Dem candidate winning.
All votes count and accurately represent the wishes of the voters, as all votes are tallied up and
reallocated according to the quota. As no votes are wasted, it really does proportionally represent
what the voters actually want in government. Smaller parties tend to get better
representation because of the votes cast correlating to seats won.
Leading on from this, smaller parties are given a tangible chance of obtaining representation
because votes are translated proportionally to seats. In the 2007 local council elections the Green
Party gained 2 seats.
However, coalitions can lead to instability. The majority of local authorities are coalitions – 21 of
32. In the Edinburgh Council it is a Lib Dem/SNP coalition. It released a series of school closures
which was very unpopular. SNP withdrew its support without consulting with the Lib Dems.
Some parties actually form coalitions to exclude other parties, rather than for fairness or for
optimum local government. In East Dunbartonshire the Labour party and Conservatives formed a
coalition to keep the SNP out – despite having different views and policies!
Disadvantages of FPTP:
FPTP tends to create stable government, but stable government is not always good. In 2005,
Lib Dems leader Charles Kennedy was opposed to the war in Iraq. An STV-run UK General
Election probably would have created a hung parliament, resulting in seats for Lib Dems and
an opportunity for them to voice their opinion.
However, FPTP does not always produce decisive results. Despite supporters saying FPTP is
good for the country as it produces clear results quickly, the 2010 election produced a hung
parliament and a coalition between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems
FPTP does create fair and democratic results. Seats are not proportional to votes cast by the
electorate. This means that votes cast for a party are not the same as the seats they
eventually receive in Parliament. There have been many cases in which this has happened. A
notable example was in the 2005 General Election. The Lib Dems won 22% of the votes but
only 10% of the seats. Labour became government with 35% of the vote gaining 55% of the
Disadvantages of AMS
Voters might end up having an MSP they did not vote for. In August 2007, 3 months
after coming into office the SNP MSP Stefan Tymkewycz resigned from the Scottish
Parliament. SNP elected their new candidate Shirley-Anne Somervill with no voters
getting an opinion or an opportunity to vote on their new MSP.
The parties can be said to be more powerful than the voter, as they choose the list of
potential candidates to be put forward. In 2003, Margo MacDonald resigned from SNP
an became an Independent candidate. If she hadn’t left SNP it would have been
unlikely that she had won. Due to inter-party disputes, a perfectly capable potential
MSP may not get a chance. This example shows that the voters wanted Margo
MacDonald to win, but the SNP would not have put her forward.
Why is the myth that STV leads to a weak and unstable government and
permanent toothless concensulism incorrect?
STV does not always lead to a weak and unstable local government as 12 out of
32 governments are majority governments. It is not the majority of wards, but it
shows that it can produce majority governments fairly easily.
How many ballot papers are spoilt in STV elections, in comparison with
In STV, around 2% of the votes (100,000 votes) were spoilt. This is due to
the complicatedness of the STV system and the fact that the Scottish
Parliament election was on the same day, increasing the number of spoilt
ballots due to confusion in voters.
However, in 2007, figures showed that 38,341 local government (STV) votes
were rejected compared to about 140,000 in the Holyrood poll.
STV, out of the three electoral systems, is the most
democratic. This is due to ALL VOTES BEING
COUNTED, and the fact that SEATS ARE
AMS and FPTP, to some extent, do not have these
democratic elements.

similar documents