Where is FPTP used?
First Past The Post is used in British general elections.
Britain is split into 646 constituencies, and an MP is elected from each.
The average constituency size in Scotland is 45,000 people, and in
England it is 60,000 people per constituency.
When an MP wins in a constituency, this equals a seat in the House of
How does FPTP work?
The names of the party candidate are written on the ballot sheet
(eg. Ed Milliband – Labour)
The party with the overall majority of seats in the House of Commons more than the opposition put together – become government.
How is FPTP most democratic / representative?
First Past The Post is easy for voters to understand, as all you do is cross the box of
your chosen candidate from your favoured party.
In the 2010 general election only 0.6% of ballot papers were spoilt (780 out of
A fast decision is usually made using First Past The Post. With the exception of
2010, the government are usually announced the next day. This is because it is
easy to count the votes. In the 2005 general election, Sunderland South were the
first to declare their constituency MP in the regular race to declare the winner. This
was Chris Mullin, the Labour MP for that constituency.
In the 2005 general election the result was announced at 4.28am the day after the
election when it was announced that Labour had won their 324th seat (the amount
needed for a majority)
First Past The Post stops extremist parties, as votes do not equal seats unless they
are concentrated in a constituency.
In the 2010 general election, UKIP got 3.1% of votes (919,546) and BNP got 1.9%
of votes (564,331) yet neither of these parties gained any seats in the House of
Commons as their votes were not concentrated.
A stable government is usually produced using First Past The Post. The system is
designed not to produce coalition governments (as the current government are a
coalition and there is instability currently over the European Union) In 2005 Labour
won the election with 55.2% of seats, producing a stable government.
Ways in which FPTP is undemocratic?
Using First Past The Post can create an unfair advantage in terms of where
people live. If a vote isn’t concentrated in a constituency the party will gain no
seats, but if it is concentrated they can gain a seat with a ridiculously low number
of votes.
In 2010 Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalists) got only 0.6% of votes but 3 seats in
the House of Commons as their vote was concentrated over 3 constituencies.
Some parties get more seats than are proportional to their amount of votes, and
other parties get less.
In 2010 BNP got 1.9% of votes but no seats, and Labour got 29% of votes and
gained 258 seats.
In total only 36% of people voted for the current government.
Smaller parties have no chance when First Past The Post is used.
In 2010 the Green party got 1% of the vote and 1 seat, compared to UKIP who
got 3.1% but no seats.
Why are other systems not as good as FPTP?
Additional Member System and Single Transferable Vote)
AMS can be complicated as there are two choices on the ballot paper
This is because there is a regional ballot and a constituency ballot
AMS is designed to produce a coalition, which can lead to instability as the
council can become divided over issues making it undemocratic.
AMS means voters are represented by the party’s chosen candidate, not a
voters choice.
This means it can be unrepresentative as the candidate isn’t represented by
their own choice.
AMS can lead to tactical voting.
AMS sometimes gives rise to overhang seats.
STV takes a long time to count up votes.
This is because the votes are counted by first preference, then second
preference, etc.
STV is the least democratic way of deciding the council despite being the
most democratic system.
For example East Dunbartonshire saw a Labour/Conservative coalition to
keep SNP out.
STV produces coalitions which can be unstable.
Some councils even have a 3-way coalition (multi-party councils)
How is FPTP the most democratic and the most representative?
First Past The Post is the most democratic system because the system usually
elects government that have a clear majority in the House of Commons. For
example in 2005 Labour had a 66% majority. This allows government to have
stability to carry out their policies over 5 years, making it democratic.
First Past The Post is also democratic because extreme parties such as the
BNP do not usually gain seats, therefore limiting their power and stopping them
from making undemocratic decisions.
First Past The Post is also extremely representative as it provides a direct link
between the constituency and an MP, and allows a voter to directly express
their views on who should be in government. This makes the MP highly
accountable to the electorate, meaning it is representative.
Overall, First Past The Post is the most democratic and representative system
that is used in the UK.
by Amy, Beth, Paige, Martha, Lucy, Ellen, Andrew and Conor

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