2 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 termsexamples of where different electoral systems are used in the UK, and how successfully they operateexamples of how election results vary depending on the electoral system usedanalysis of how effective different electoral systems areThe 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.
3 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.
4 Voting systemsRemind yourself of each voting system, using your class notes and the video clip links below. Some questions will follow to test your understanding.Simple pluralityRegional listFirst-past-the-post (FPTP)Single transferable vote (STV)MajoritarianHybrid systemSupplementary vote (SV)Additional member system (AMS)Alternative vote (AV)(This video shows an alternative view of AV.)Proportional representation (PR)
5 Questions Voting systems: key features Which six voting systems are being described below and on the following slide?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.The candidate with the most votes wins the constituency seat.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.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.
6 Questions Voting systems: key features (continued) 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.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.
7 Answers Voting systems: key features Regional listFirst-past-the-postAdditional member systemAlternative voteSupplementary voteSingle transferable vote
8 UK electoral systemsWhere 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.First-past-the-postNorthern Ireland and for Scottish local electionsSupplementary voteAlternative voteLondon mayoral elections (and other directly elected mayors), police and crime commissioners electionsRegional listSingle transferable voteScottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and London Assembly electionsAdditional member systemUK Parliament, UK local electionsEuropean Parliament elections (for whole of UK excluding Northern Ireland)Not used — was rejected as a system for UK Parliament elections in a UK referendum in 2011
10 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.First-past-the-postSupplementary voteAlternative voteRegional listSingle transferable voteAdditional member system
11 Ballot paper A Conservative Party Mr Bates Ms Harvey Mr Smith Green PartyMs ChapmanLabour PartyMs AllingtonMr ReedMs WitherspoonLiberal DemocratsMr CorveyMs MoxtonUKIPMr GibbWrite 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.
12 Ballot paper B Conservative Party Mr Bates Green Party Ms Chapman Labour PartyMs WitherspoonLiberal DemocratsMs MoxtonUKIPMr GibbPut an X in the box next to your choice of candidate.Vote for one candidate only.
13 Ballot paper C Regional member Constituency member Conservative Party Green PartyLabour PartyLiberal DemocratsUKIPConstituency memberMr Allsop (UKIP)Ms Christie(Liberal Democrat)Mr Halliday(Conservative)Ms Norrington (Labour)Ms Windcastle (Green)You have two votes. Put one X next to your choice of regional member, and one X next to your choice of constituency member.
14 Ballot paper D First choice Second choice Conservative Party Mr Bates Put one X next to your first choice of candidate and another X next to your second choice of candidate.First choiceSecond choiceConservative PartyMr BatesGreen PartyMs ChapmanLabour PartyMs WitherspoonLiberal DemocratsMs MoxtonUKIPMr Gibb
15 Ballot paper E Conservative Party Mr Bates Green Party Ms Chapman Labour PartyMs WitherspoonLiberal DemocratsMs MoxtonUKIPMr GibbWrite 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.
16 Ballot paper F Regional member Conservative Party Green Party Labour PartyLiberal DemocratsUKIPPut an X next to your choice of regional member.
17 Answers: ballot papers Ballot paper A: Single transferable voteBallot paper B: First-past-the-postBallot paper C: Additional member systemBallot paper D: Supplementary voteBallot paper E: Alternative voteBallot paper F: Regional list
18 QuestionsWhy 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.)Why do many people fear that PR would produce weak and unaccountable governments? (Tip: consider the problems that coalition governments face.)Why do UKIP and the Greens do particularly well in elections to the European Parliament?How did AMS help the Scottish National Party (SNP) become a party of government? (See for election results.)Why was it particularly impressive that the SNP won a majority in 2011? (Tip: consider the AMS voting system.)Why is STV particularly appropriate for Northern Ireland? (Tip: consider its troubled history.)
19 Essay preparationNow 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.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)?Why is it impossible to have an ideal electoral system that delivers all of these features?Which of the features of an ideal electoral system do you think are the most important, and why?Which would be your preferred voting system, and why?What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a range of different voting systems in use across the UK?
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