What is a voting system?

 Elects MPs to Parliament.  Various forms used in different countries.

Key Words
• Legislature: a body that looks at, amends and rejects/approves laws. • Reichstag: the lower house of the German Parliament. It was fully elected by people over 20 and formed the government. • Reichsrat: the Reich council. It represented the states, indirectly elected by the Ländesrats of Germany. 67 members. • Ländesrat: the state legislature/assembly. Had powers in areas like Education. • Parliamentary Government: the government is the majority party/parties in the Reichstag.

House of Commons Seating Arrangement

What voting systems are there?
 There are three main groups of voting system:  Majoritarian: a system that elects MPs using a majority. Be it a simple majority (whoever has the most votes wins (FPTP)) or a normal majority (50% +1 vote (AV)). Use single member seats. Systems: FPTP; AV; SV; and SB.  Proportional: a system that elects MPs based on the % of the vote they get. E.g. 20% votes = 20% seats. Use multimember seats. Systems: List and STV.  Hybrid: a system that does a mix of the above two systems. So 50% seats by PR and 50% by FPTP. Systems: AMS and AV+.

Majoritarian - FPTP
 FPTP = First Past the Post.

 It elects MPs in single member constituencies.
 You put an “X” by the candidate you like.  E.g. If there was an election tomorrow in the Lancing

constituency and the votes were as follows:
 Party A: 10,000 - elected  Party B: 7,000  Party C: 3,000

 Party A’s candidate is elected because he has the most

votes. This is the system used in the UK.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages  It is simple to use and understand.  There is a constituency link.  Provides for strong government.  Reduces the representation of fringe parties. Disadvantages  It is not proportional.  Tyranny of democracy – too strong a govnt.  Minority’s choice, not the majority’s.  It makes it harder for third and other parties to gain representation even with 23% of the vote. E.g. Lib Dems have only 57 seats (8%) with 23% of the vote.

Majoritarian – AV,SV and SB
 AV = Alternative Vote.  It elects MPs in single member constituencies. (all

Majoritarian systems do).  No “X” this time. You number candidates “1”, “2” “3” in order of preference.  To get elected you need 50% of the votes +1 to get elected.  If no one achieves 50% +1 then the candidate with the lowest votes is eliminated. This keep happening until one candidate achieves 50% +1. Proposed by the Coalition and used in Australia.

Majoritarian – AV,SV and SB 2
 SV = Supplementary Vote.
 Same as above except if no one gets 50% +1 then only

the top two candidates remain. Used in the London Mayoral elections.  SB = Second Ballot.  Same as above, but if no one achieves 50% +1 then a second ballot is held with the top two candidates. Used in French Presidential elections.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages  Majority’s choice, not the minority’s.  Still provides strong govnt.  Still provides a constituency link.  Easy to understand and use – if you can count to 5… Disadvantages  Still not proportional.  Does little to account for representation issue.  Still can fall prey to tyranny of democracy.

Proportional - List
 The list system lists candidates and/or parties. Votes are by    

preference as with AV. Seats are, however, distributed by % of vote achieved. Uses multi-member constituencies. E.g. If party A get 20% of the vote, it gets 20% of the seats. Used by Germany until 1933. The list system has two versions:
 Open: parties and candidates are listed. More candidate-

centric than closed.  Closed: parties only listed. Candidates are on party lists. The higher you are on the list the more likely you are to be elected.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages  It is proportional in the purest of forms.  It provides representation for smaller parties.  Cooperation is necessary because it is hard to get a majority. Disadvantages  Weak government occurs.  Fringe parties can gain representation.  No constituency link.

Proportional - STV
 STV = Single Transferable Vote.
 Elects MPs in multi-member constituencies.  Uses a quota to elect MPs based on a formula.  If the candidate achieves the quota, they are elected. If

they go over the quota their votes are redistributed.  If no candidate gets the quota then the candidate with the lowest vote is eliminated.  Used for NI Assembly elections.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages  It is proportional.  It provides representation for smaller parties, but does makes it harder for fringe parties to get in.  Constituencies are of a reasonable size in comparison to other PR systems. Disadvantages  Constituencies are still in 100,000s.  Weak government still occurs.

Hybrid - AMS
 AMS = Additional Member System.
 Uses a mix of multi-member and single member

constituencies. The ratio is not fixed. i.e. it could be 50-50, 60-40 etc.  The candidates in the multi-member constituencies are elected using PR.  The candidates in the single member constituencies are elected using FPTP.  This system is currently used in Germany post-1945 and Scotland and Wales Assembly elections.

Hybrid – AV+
 AV+ = Alternative Vote Plus.  Same as AMS, but the single member constituency

voting system used is AV.  This system is considered more proportional than AMS.  This system is not currently used anywhere.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages  Best of both worlds – some MPs are proportionally elected and some have constituency link.  Stronger government. Disadvantages  Two classes of MP are created.