Electoral System Analysis

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‘If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.’ Discuss with reference to the electoral systems used for national elections in the UK and USA. The first past the post systems used in both the USA and the UK unquestionably have the potential to produce election results that are not representative of the break down of total votes in an election, providing results that don’t reflect voter wishes. One may argue that the electoral systems used in both the USA and UK marginalize minorities, causes wasted, insignificant votes and promote voter apathy. However despite the numerous criticisms of first past the post it has continued to be the system in place to decide the President in the USA and dictate which party forms government, and thus which party leader becomes Prime Minister in the UK, suggesting the system has its advantages. Proponents of the UK and US voting methods also often cite the lack of a credible alternative as a reason for the retention of the current systems. In the UK, national elections are held when the incumbent government chooses to call an election. This differs significantly from the USA where political office is held on a fixed term basis. When a general election is called each constituency holds an election to decide their Member of Parliament (MP) using the first past the post system. If a party gains a majority it will be offered the chance to form government by the Queen. The MP is then responsible for representing all constituents, even those who didn’t elect the member. For example in 2005 George Galloway received only 18.4% of his constituents but was still elected MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.[1] This high proportion of constituents who didn’t vote for Galloway is not a unique anomaly, during the 2005 election only three MPs secured more than 40% of their constituents votes. It may be argued that voter apathy has a large influence on this
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