FPTP ensures a strong and stable government in the UK; however, FPTP can sometimes fail to do so. First Past the Post ensures there is a strong a stable Government by, guaranteeing a party will receive the majority of seats in an election more than 90% of the time. For example; in the history of election outcomes in the UK, there has only been two occasions when a party failed to gain more than 50% of seats. This situation occurred in 2010 when the Tories gained 306 seats, and formed a coalition with the Lib Dems. In 1979 Labour Party under the Leadership of Wilson gained 301 seats and ended up forming a coalition with the Liberals in 1976.
As AMS is a partly PR system, the percentage of votes equals the percentage/number of seats, this in turn, means the big two parties no longer dominate the government. The STV system is used in local elections and has also meant a decline in the dominance of the two parties in the UK. Most councils in Scotland are now coalitions, Labour only being dominant in two of these. Minority groups being in power have meant other parties views and policies have been heard just as much as Labours or Conservatives, showing that it is less of a two party system. The Liberal Democrats have become a more important
Also it is criticised for the fact the in recent times no government has obtained 50% of the votes cast. Both of these statements are backed up by the result of the 2005 general election where Labour won 35.6% of the votes but 56.1% of the seats. In that same election the Liberal Democrats won 22% of the votes but only 9% of the seats. On top of these criticisms votes for small parties are often wasted. As shown in 2010 where in the general election the Green and other small parties combined achieved 7.9% of the votes but the Green party was the only one of these parties to gain a seat and they only won one seat.
To what extent is the Westminster electoral system in need of reform? The current system used in the UK general elections is the First Past the Post electoral system. It is a simple plurality system- meaning a candidate only needs one more vote than his/her opponent in order to win a constituency seat in a single member constituency. Although the First Past the Post system has a strong constituency link and nearly always produces a majority government which means a strong government, its negatives include many wasted votes and a lack of clear representation. This is why some argue that the current Westminster electoral system is in desperate need of reform.
However on the other hand it is argued that the UK could not possibly be a two party system because the Conservatives wouldn’t have been able to come into power without the Liberal Democrats. During the 2010 election the Conservatives failed to gain an overall majority, in fact they only gained 36% of the votes meaning they were not going to be able to rule by themselves. This resulted in a hung parliament. This disagrees with the view that the UK has a two party system because no
Pressure groups differ from political parties in the fact that a pressure group can’t run in an election in an attempt to gain power. They can be classed as either insider or outsider depending if the government wishes to acknowledge their aim and listen to what they have to say. Also some pressure groups could be around for a short time as if they are caused by a single issue when it has been resolved they either dissolve it or keep a much smaller profile. Due to much larger memberships nationwide, with some pressure groups having in excess of a million members compared to parties these days which at most only have around 200,000 members this from the start means that due to severe lack of numbers in comparison to some pressure groups means that they are at an immediate disadvantage. As a result of this the voice of a pressure group can be very loud as even if half of its members turn out to a protest or march they would have more than the total of political parties.
For example, in 1997 Labour beat Conservative by having a higher majority of votes. One criticism of First Past the Post is it is unrepresentative. The reason for this is because it does not represent every electorate’s views and interest. An example of this if is when someone is voting for a party in their constituencies for example Labour could get 123votes and Green Party could get 122votes and they would lose by a minority of 1 vote. On the other hand, First Past the Post is noticeable for its simplicity and being straight forward.
The British Colonies Although not quite as democratic as our lives, the British Colonies in the 18th century were a haven for liberty, democracy, and new ways of thinking, because they were considerably more advanced in comparison to the world around them. Equality is an essential part of a democracy, and even more democratic systems were appearing in the Colonies. To ensure equality everyone needs to have an equal say in the government. The only citizens allowed to vote were wealthy, adult, white males, but it’s estimated 50%-80% enjoyed the freedom, a considerable advantage to the 5% in Britain. Occupied with other matters, the British Empire wasn’t able to completely control the colonies and as a result they developed independent governments.
In 2011 the government held a referendum offering the public the chance to change the voting system from FPTP to AV but the public voted against changing it. One key advantage of FPTP is that it is straight forward and simple to use as it grants each person 1 single vote without an ordering system and generally means that government changeover is fast as the results are quick and easy to calculate. However in 2010 this was not the case, as for the first time in over 20 years, no single government won a majority of seats and so it took a few days for a new government to come into power. In this sense the 2010 election illustrates poorly the simplicity of the FPTP system as it failed to produce a government and so became much more complicated to decide who came to power and eventually the choice was essentially taken out of the public’s hands so was not simple or quick. Another advantage of the FPTP system is that it manages to marginalise extremist and revolutionary parties such as UKHIP and BNP as they are unlikely to win overall constituencies.
It aimed to satisfy many of the people who were being left out of politics and either forgotten about or just not cared for by the rich elite. These groups were however not constricted to the debt ridden agrarians, wage earners, currency reformers and residents of Western mining states. (Fink 216) This attempt to branch out to many different concerned interest groups was the only way this party was able to become as powerful as it did. “In no national election from 1872 to 1888 did the combined votes of all alternative parties top 4 percent of the total. The People’s Party offered the best and perhaps the last chance to convert antimonopoly sentiment into a winning strategy.”(Fink