Fotolia UK electoral systems UK electoral systems How to revise electoral systems In order to achieve high marks when answering a question on electoral systems, you need to revise the following: definitions of different electoral systems and key terms examples of where different electoral systems are used in the UK, and how successfully they operate examples of how election results vary depending on the electoral system used analysis of how effective different electoral systems are The following slides begin by giving you an analytical framework to consider — the features of an ideal voting system — and then examine the different voting systems in turn. These slides are intended to help you revise basic principles. You will need to look at your class notes/textbooks for specific examples. UK electoral systems Features of an ideal voting system The ideal voting system would be able to achieve the following outcomes. Voter choice — giving voters a choice of both party and candidate. Constituency link — having constituency-based MPs allows voters to feel a connection to their MP, and to feel that their local issues are being represented in Parliament. High levels of participation — voter apathy is low as people feel that they have a genuine choice, and they do not need to worry about wasted votes. Simplicity — people can understand the voting system easily. Proportionality — the share of a party’s seats in Parliament should reflect the share of the vote that it received in the election. Strong government — a majority allows governments to get things done. Accountable government — the electorate is able to hold the government to account based on their success or failure in implementing their manifesto. UK electoral systems Voting systems Remind yourself of each voting system, using your class notes and the video clip links below. Some questions will follow to test your understanding. Simple plurality Regional list First-past-the-post (FPTP) Single transferable vote (STV) http://education.niassembly.gov.uk/post_16/ how_do_we_elect_mlas/video Majoritarian Supplementary vote (SV) Alternative vote (AV) www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiHuiDD_oTk (This video shows an alternative view of AV.) Proportional representation (PR) Hybrid system Additional member system (AMS) www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/scottishparliamentary-elections-additional-membersystem/3826.html UK electoral systems Questions Voting systems: key features Which six voting systems are being described below and on the following slide? a. The electorate vote for a party representative of a large multi-member regional constituency. The party’s candidates are selected by the party on a closed list. b. The candidate with the most votes wins the constituency seat. c. The electorate vote for a constituency candidate using FPTP and a regional list candidate using PR. Regional seats are allocated to parties using the d’Hondt formula. d. Candidates are ranked in order of preference and need an absolute majority to win. If no candidate achieves this, the lowest ranked candidate’s votes are reallocated according to second preferences. This continues until one candidate has 50%+1 of the vote. UK electoral systems Questions Voting systems: key features (continued) e. Electors have a first and second preference candidate. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority, all but the top two candidates are removed from the race. Any second preference votes from those who voted for the discarded candidates are then added to the tally for each of the top two candidates and the winner is determined. f. Electors have a choice of party and individual candidate. Candidates are ranked in order of preference and elected to large multi-member constituencies using the Droop quota. Second preferences will be considered if the quota is not met, by eliminating the lowest placed candidate and redistributing their votes. This continues until all of the seats are filled. UK electoral systems Answers Voting systems: key features a. Regional list b. First-past-the-post c. Additional member system d. Alternative vote e. Supplementary vote f. Single transferable vote UK electoral systems UK electoral systems Where is each system currently used in the UK? Match up the systems below on the left with the type of elections on the right. The answers are on the next slide. 1. First-past-the-post 2. Supplementary vote 3. Alternative vote 4. Regional list 5. Single transferable vote 6. Additional member system A. Northern Ireland and for Scottish local elections B. London mayoral elections (and other directly elected mayors), police and crime commissioners elections C. Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and London Assembly elections D. UK Parliament, UK local elections E. European Parliament elections (for whole of UK excluding Northern Ireland) F. Not used — was rejected as a system for UK Parliament elections in a UK referendum in 2011 UK electoral systems Answers: UK electoral systems 1. D 2. B 3. F 4. E 5. A 6. C UK electoral systems Activity: ballot papers The following six slides show different ballot papers. To test your understanding, work out which of the six voting systems below is represented by each type of ballot paper. 1. First-past-the-post 2. Supplementary vote 3. Alternative vote 4. Regional list 5. Single transferable vote 6. Additional member system UK electoral systems Ballot paper A Conservative Party Mr Bates Conservative Party Ms Harvey Conservative Party Mr Smith Green Party Ms Chapman Labour Party Ms Allington Labour Party Mr Reed Labour Party Ms Witherspoon Liberal Democrats Mr Corvey Liberal Democrats Ms Moxton UKIP Mr Gibb Write a number beside candidates in order of preference: 1 for your first choice, 2 for your second choice, 3 for your third choice, and so on. UK electoral systems Ballot paper B Conservative Party Mr Bates Green Party Ms Chapman Labour Party Ms Witherspoon Liberal Democrats Ms Moxton UKIP Mr Gibb Put an X in the box next to your choice of candidate. Vote for one candidate only. UK electoral systems Ballot paper C Regional member Conservative Party Green Party Labour Party Liberal Democrats UKIP You have two votes. Put one X next to your choice of regional member, and one X next to your choice of constituency member. Constituency member Mr Allsop (UKIP) Ms Christie (Liberal Democrat) Mr Halliday (Conservative) Ms Norrington (Labour) Ms Windcastle (Green) UK electoral systems Ballot paper D Put one X next to your first choice of candidate and another X next to your second choice of candidate. First choice Conservative Party Mr Bates Green Party Ms Chapman Labour Party Ms Witherspoon Liberal Democrats Ms Moxton UKIP Mr Gibb Second choice UK electoral systems Ballot paper E Conservative Party Mr Bates Green Party Ms Chapman Labour Party Ms Witherspoon Liberal Democrats Ms Moxton UKIP Mr Gibb Write a number beside candidates in order of preference: 1 for your first choice, 2 for your second choice, 3 for your third choice, and so on. UK electoral systems Ballot paper F Regional member Conservative Party Green Party Labour Party Liberal Democrats UKIP Put an X next to your choice of regional member. UK electoral systems Answers: ballot papers Ballot paper A: Single transferable vote Ballot paper B: First-past-the-post Ballot paper C: Additional member system Ballot paper D: Supplementary vote Ballot paper E: Alternative vote Ballot paper F: Regional list UK electoral systems Questions 1. Why does FPTP produce governments that are highly accountable to the electorate? (Tip: consider the ability of a government to win a majority and then implement its manifesto fully.) 2. Why do many people fear that PR would produce weak and unaccountable governments? (Tip: consider the problems that coalition governments face.) 3. Why do UKIP and the Greens do particularly well in elections to the European Parliament? 4. How did AMS help the Scottish National Party (SNP) become a party of government? (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Scotland for election results.) 5. Why was it particularly impressive that the SNP won a majority in 2011? (Tip: consider the AMS voting system.) 6. Why is STV particularly appropriate for Northern Ireland? (Tip: consider its troubled history.) UK electoral systems Essay preparation Now that you have revised electoral systems, it is time to develop your analysis of each system. This is essential for you to be able to write a good essay. Look back at each electoral system and consider the following. 1. How well does each one deliver the features of an ideal electoral system (e.g. voter choice, constituency link, participation, simplicity, proportionality, strong government, accountable government)? 2. Why is it impossible to have an ideal electoral system that delivers all of these features? 3. Which of the features of an ideal electoral system do you think are the most important, and why? 4. Which would be your preferred voting system, and why? 5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a range of different voting systems in use across the UK?