UK electoral systems

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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?

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