Voting Systems 1: First Past the Post

Gap-fill exercise

Complete the exercise and print it out.
Then start to consider the essay question "How democratic is the UK?"

How the System Works:
The current system for electing MPs to the House of Commons is called First-Past-The-Post. There are 659 separate across the UK each electing one single Member of Parliament. In order to vote you simply put an 'X' next to the name of the candidate you support. The candidate who gets the most wins, regardless of whether he or she has more than 50% support. Once members have been individually elected, the party with the most in Parliament, regardless of whether or not it has a across the country, normally becomes the next government.

The system is used:
for elections to the House of and local elections in Great Britain (but not in Northern Ireland) and in USA, Canada and India.

Arguments used in favour:
It is to understand.
The voter can express a view on which party should form the next .
It tends to lead to a two-party system. The system tends to produce party governments, which are strong enough to create and tackle the country's problems, without relying on the support of any other party.
It provides a close link between the MP and their .
The system represents the views of the people, as the candidate with the greatest support through a fair process.
The UK's is one of the strongest in the world, it works and since no system is perfect, why should we go through the massive overhaul of changing?

What is this trying to say?
Only one MP is in each constituency, so all the voters who did not vote for him or her are not represented. Their votes do not help elect anybody and so are , they could have stayed at home and the result would not have been altered.
In 1997, in Great Britain, 14.7 voters cast ineffective votes - that is 48.2% of those who voted. A high proportion of these voters are the same people every time, e.g. Conservative voters in County Durham or Labour voters in much of Surrey.
There is a lack of given to the voters. The candidates are selected by a small number of party , and voters can only choose between parties. If the candidate selected for your party has views with which you disagree, you are left with no choice within that party.
Voters are represented . In 1997, the average number of votes per MP elected was: 32,376 for Labour, but 113,826 for Liberal Democrats
Concentrated support for a party produces results. In 1997, Conservative support was spread thinly over most of . They got 18% of the vote in Scotland, but no seats. The Liberal Democrats got 13% of the Scottish vote and a similar share of the seats because they had strong support in a few constituencies and minimal support in most of the others.
The system leads to many people casting votes i.e. voting against the candidate they dislike most rather than for the candidate they like best.
The way the of constituencies are drawn can affect the results. Governments are often accused of gerrymandering, adjusting the boundaries of constituencies to influence the results.
In 1997, won 43.3% of the total vote, but got 65.2% of the seats in Parliament, giving them power to form a government. Although 11 out of 20 British voted against the Government, it has complete .

(Source: Electoral Reform Society)