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Elections Elections

Purposes of Elections • • To elect a member of Parliament to represent the Purposes of Elections • • To elect a member of Parliament to represent the constituency as a whole or as individual to express grievance against the state. A verdict on the performance of the government- e. g. 1997 verdict on Conservative Government or 2010 against Labour. To decide between alterative political programmes (manifestos). Choosing between different teams of political leaders. To grant a mandate to the new government- granting authority to whichever party wins. This electoral mandate does two things- the winning party has the authority to put into effect its manifesto commitments (doctrine of the mandate and manifesto) and it grants to the new government authority to do whatever necessary to promote the security and welfare of the country. And to respond to an emergency (doctor’s mandate) Here, however Parliament still acts a check. An election allows for major political issues and philosophies of the day to be put to public scrutiny. Elections to regional assemblies and Parliaments similar functions as to Westminster although issues are on a regional basis. Northern Ireland assembly elections overwhelming issue is question of status of Province in relation to the UK. If Sinn Fein does well it indicates growing support for independence if radical loyalists do well it demonstrates resistance to demands of the Nationalist community. Local elections- functions are different as a government is not being elected but a number of councillors to represent the local community but also as an opinion poll on the performance of the government.

Key features of the FPTP • Simple majority or plurality systemwhoever wins the largest Key features of the FPTP • Simple majority or plurality systemwhoever wins the largest number of votes is elected, no need for a set % of the vote. • Each constituency 1 MP • Each party nominate only one candidate per constituency • Voters have one vote each.

Effects of FPTP • It discriminates in favour of some parties and against others. Effects of FPTP • It discriminates in favour of some parties and against others. • 1979 -2010 the winning party always a considerably higher proportion of the seats than votes. • It has produced anomalies- 1951 Labour gained more votes than Conservatives but latter won 26 more seats. • February 1974 Conservatives 200 000 more votes than Labour but 4 fewer seats. • Labour won 35. 2% share of vote 2005 and a majority 65 Conservatives 36. 1% vote 2010 but in a minority. • 1992 -7 Lib. Dem vote fell from 6 m-5. 2 M but number of seats from 2046 - tarfgeting of effort and resources. • 2010 a vote for labour or Conservatives 2010 over 3 X vote for Lib. Dems.

Main effects of FPTP • Strong, unique relationship between a single MP and every Main effects of FPTP • Strong, unique relationship between a single MP and every constituency. • Majority MPs elected without an overall majority of votes. • System tends to favour leading party in the polls. • Favours those parties able to concentrate votes in specific constituencies. • Hard for smaller parties to break dominance of two main parties. • Votes not equal- more valuable in marginal, votes for second and third parties are less value than for winning party. • Votes for small parties no hope of winning are wasted. • House of Commons does not reflect political balance of the electorate.

Key features 2010 • • • No party overall majority for first time since Key features 2010 • • • No party overall majority for first time since February 1974. A close result Conservatives winning 36. 1% vote, Labour 29% and Lib. Dems 23%. All parties disappointed. Lib Dem poll ratings c 30% early in campaign but support slipped in last week and fewer seats than 2015. Labour lost its majority and share of poll lowest since 1987. Despite ahead in opinion polls since 2007 no Conservative majority. 3 lived leader debates transformed the campaign but little impact on changing support. Smaller parties no breakthrough- a Green MP but perform badly elsewhere and BNP and UKIP polling 1000 -2000 often fewer. No significant progress for nationalist parties. Conservatives on e seat in Scotland but 56% of English constituencies and 40% votes there. 2009 expenses scandal little impact- Hazel Blears retain her seat easily. Wide swing variations- electorates volatile in different parts of the country. Overall turnout up on 2005 at 65%. As polling day approached, opinion polls increasingly pointed to a hung Parliament so parties began open talks on possibility of a coalition

The results • • • FPTP favoured the two largest parties. Conservative share of The results • • • FPTP favoured the two largest parties. Conservative share of vote risen by only 4% on 2005 party share of seats up by nearly 17%. Lib Dems on a slightly higher share of votes on 2005 with 5 fewer seats. Far higher Conservative gains in England compared with elsewhere gained over 50% seats. With only 1 seat in Scotland Conservatives a legitimate claim to govern in England but not there. Case is there for greater autonomy in Scotland where Labour won 41/59 seats. Even in England- Conservatives regionally split- dominant in southeast but eclipsed in poorer northeast Lib. Dems well in South-West but hardly feature in regions outside London. One of most compelling arguments in defence of FPTP was strong single party government overturned by result which produced first hung Parliament 36 years and first coalition 65 years. British Elections study survey suggests that there is a growing number of floater voters at each election. 1992 Lab+Con 76% vote in 2010 65%. Support for small parties increased from 6% 1992 to 12% 2010.

Electoral systems- majority systems • An electoral system designed to ensure the person or Electoral systems- majority systems • An electoral system designed to ensure the person or party elected a broad majority of support from electorate. • Majority systems therefore aim to reduce the contest to two candidates and the second part includes a run off election between the two survivors. • London Mayor elections- Each voter two preference votes. If no candidate 50% on first round then below top two candidates the 2 nd preference votes filed candidates are redistributed. • French presidential elections- voters show second preference on separate date here only top two on first ballot contest. • Most common type of majority system is AV. Her if no one gets 50% on first ballot the top two keep first preference and the 2 nd votes of other candidates are allocated. A more complex system operates in Australian House of Representatives.

Plurality systems • Plurality refers to when a candidate wins more votes than opponent Plurality systems • Plurality refers to when a candidate wins more votes than opponent but not necessarily an overall majority- UK Parliament and the USA. In the latter where there are only two serious parties then the winner nearly always an absolute majority in a more fractured political system like the UK this is generally not the case.

Proportional Representation • PR is a description of any electoral system that tends to Proportional Representation • PR is a description of any electoral system that tends to produce institutions that are representative of the people who have elected them. If a system is exactly proportional parties will be represented in accordance with the proportion of total votes they win- such a system operates only in Israel.

STV • Multimember constituencies (NI=6) • Candidates must reach a quota- total of number STV • Multimember constituencies (NI=6) • Candidates must reach a quota- total of number of votes divide by number of seats =1. • Voters rank candidates in order of preference and can select from different parties. • Candidates who achieve quota on first preference are elected and when that happens subsequent preferences are redistributed. • As more candidates now achieve quota spare votes redistributed. This continues until required number candidates. • Why NI? To reflect the divisions of a divided society, prevent unionist parties win overall majority- a history of abuse of power by protestant parties, strong civil rights movement NI which insist on system which maximise voter choice.

List system • No individual candidates and each party produces a list and number List system • No individual candidates and each party produces a list and number of seats equates with votes. • A national list (Israel) or a regional list. • Closed list- the voter only votes for a party who then decide on elected candidate- party decides on rank order. (UK EU parliament) or in open list- voter ranks candidates in order. • List system normally operates on a threshold to remove extremist parties- 5% in post war Germany.

Additional member system • A hybrid system. • Mix of FPTP and the list Additional member system • A hybrid system. • Mix of FPTP and the list system. • A compromise aim at balance between element of proportionality and idea of parliamentary constituencies. • Purpose of the list is to make the system more proportional by giving top up seats. • In Scotland- 2/3 are directly elected and the list is a closed list. Based on regions. • System is used for GLA, welsh assembly and a 50/50 split for Germany.

AV+ • Recommended by the Royal Commission on electoral reform (Jenkins Commission 1998) • AV+ • Recommended by the Royal Commission on electoral reform (Jenkins Commission 1998) • A variant on AMS in that the constituency MP is elected by AV. Originally shelved, the Jenkins proposals became labour preferred system for Westminster 2010.

Impact of different electoral systems in the UK. • STV in NI- large number Impact of different electoral systems in the UK. • STV in NI- large number and variety of candidates. A very representative system. Voters have a wide choice and 2 nd and 3 rd preferences are taken into consideration. STV if used throughout UK would see three main parties dominate but smaller parties would pick up seats but unlikely to produce strong party government. A slow system to count and result not as quick as FPTP. • AMS Scotland Wales- labour did well in 2007 under FPTP but effect of list system is to remove a labour majority. . In Scotland 2007 the list system secured a total of 18 seats whereas they would have had only 4. Green get none under FPTP but 2 under list. A more proportional vote- Labour 29% votes but 35=% seats and SNP 31% votes and 36% seats. Con and Lib dem vote proportional. In Wales no party a majority overall and result was fairly proportional. • List system- EU elections- 2009 a more proportional result- UKIP with 16% vote got seats as did greens and BNP.

Party systems • A two or more system dependent on the number of parties Party systems • A two or more system dependent on the number of parties which compete- 2 party in USA a multiparty system in Italy. • Many systems are typically one party governments- UK pre 2010, others are coalitions, sometimes a minority government…

Electoral systems • A method by which votes converted into seats. • UK and Electoral systems • A method by which votes converted into seats. • UK and USA electoral systems normally reinforce two party system whereas in Germany a three or four party system

UK party system • Pre 1980 s Two party • General elections tended to UK party system • Pre 1980 s Two party • General elections tended to reinforce the two party dominance. • 2 party dominance e subsided since 1997 • Labour and Conservatives dominated the voting but Lib. Dems have gained ground. • Popular support rather than in Parliament (3 party system) • Impact of the formation of coalition 2010.

Criticisms of FPTP • • Governments based on minority- 2005 labour had only 35. Criticisms of FPTP • • Governments based on minority- 2005 labour had only 35. 2% popular vote. Single party governments may lack therefore democratic legitimacy. And this can lead to dissent. House of Commons does not represent range of political opinion in UKunder representation Lib. Dems. Too many wasted votes- those who support minority parties or those where the party bound to lose. A narrow choice- voters just one vote and no say in which candidates shall be put forward Voters feel forced into tactical voting or don't bother- 2001 lowest turnout since 1918. Discrimination against Lib. Dems means votes unequal value- 2010 average 33 -34000 votes for labour or conservative but 120 000 for Lib. Dem Impossible to establish a new party fro modest roots leading to stagnation or atrophy.

Likely Impact of electoral reform • • AMS- in 2005 Germany the two main Likely Impact of electoral reform • • AMS- in 2005 Germany the two main parties a dead heat- labour with similar result to Christian Democrats same year on 35. 2% a 66 seat majority so similar problem could emerge in UK. Scotland 2007 the SNP a minority and so must rely on temporary alliance on each issue. The UK likely to develop a genuinely three party system with Lib. Dems holding BOP. In Scotland a four party system. in Wales a four party system- whereas under FPTP for Wales for Westminster- one party as Labour dominates. Easier to predict impact of the list system. Just translate vote into seats 2010 a three party system for Westminster. Difficult to assess impact STV- likelihood is that Lib. Dems would gain seats. And smaller parties like Greens and UKIP would pick up seats. And nationalist parties gain considerable ground a return to independents and those represent very small parties. Coalitions inevitable. AV As voters have a second choice could work in favour Lib. Dems. It would probably disadvantage Conservatives as not often the second choice of either labour or Lib. Dems.

Assessing reform • • • For Increase voter choice Value of votes would be Assessing reform • • • For Increase voter choice Value of votes would be largely equalised Under STV and open list voters can choose between candidates same party. Any alternative list would produce a result which more represents views electorate. Present system paces too much power in a party which does not have majority support. It would encourage greater engagement and respect for the political system and may increase participation. Greater dynamism by encouraging new parties to form. UK alone in the EU by using FPTP. Experience of Wales, NI and Scotland in producing more representative forms of political systems. • • Against Parties are divided- Conservatives oppose and Labour divided. Resounding defeat in 2010 referendum. Success of FPTP at producing single party governments. Current system has delivered governments with a clear mandate to govern coalitions are formed on deals made post elections. Coalition or minority governments are unstable. The two party system created by FPTP is part of UK political culture- England Does Not like coalitions.