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Advantages and Disadvantages of 'First Past the Post'

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    Hi,

    I know this has probably been discussed before. I personally fail to see why it is a good system to use. Surely by using this system, it is excluding Minority parties from fair representation. If a minority party wins 10% of the votes then surely they should deserve 10% of the parliament seats?

    Cheers.
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    (Original post by Flukey)
    Hi,

    I know this has probably been discussed before. I personally fail to see why it is a good system to use. Surely by using this system, it is excluding Minority parties from fair representation. If a minority party wins 10% of the votes then surely they should deserve 10% of the parliament seats?

    Cheers.


    PR

    If 10 candidates are competing in a very evenly matched contest and is won say with 10.1% of the vote with everyone else just under 10%, then what?
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    No reason it has to be one or the other, I believe Germany is amongst the nations who have a mixture of FPTP and PR but I cannot remember the exact procedure.
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    And look at what happens in Germany, it takes them months to figure out who the hell the leader is!
    Why don't we just go Italy-style, we can have a government a month!
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    Flukey, the main arguments are that it's easy for an already disenfrachised electorate to understnad, and it provides strong government - you're far more likely to get a hung parliament in a proportional representation system (this is where the party with the most seats still has less than everyone else put together) and this can give undue power to small parties, becuase they may get what they want through compromise with others in a coalition.

    For example, imagine you have a PR system where Party A gets 45%, Party B gets 40% and Party C gets 15% - Also, imagine that one of Party C's policy pledges is to reinstate capital punishment, where as Party A and B don't want this. However, Party B and C could form a coalition to gain government - as that would give them a 55% majority - but at the expense of them having to allow capital punishment, if Party C demand it.

    It's like the swing states in the US - a little percentage can give the little parties enough to be able to dramatically alter policy of the majority parties. While this is entirely possible in FPTP, it's far less likely.
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    The principal arguments for FPTP are that it promotes strong government. Since governments under FPTP are generally one party governments, there is less friction that would occur between factions in a coalition.

    FPTP is criticised because it often produces disproportionate results. It's also unfair to smaller parties since they have less chance of gaining representation.
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    (Original post by zooropa)
    The principal arguments for FPTP are that it promotes strong government. Since governments under FPTP are generally one party governments, there is less friction that would occur between factions in a coalition.

    FPTP is criticised because it often produces disproportionate results. It's also unfair to smaller parties since they have less chance of gaining representation.
    That sounds like it's been copied word for word from a text book.

    We get strong governments - but that means big policy shifts from government to government. maybe if we had a hybrid system that meant that majorities were generally smaller the parties would have to work together more to pass legislation and this legislation would more reflect the needs and wants of the British people rather than this elected dictatorship that we have now.
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    (Original post by LH)
    That sounds like it's been copied word for word from a text book.
    Uh-huh?
    We get strong governments - but that means big policy shifts from government to government. maybe if we had a hybrid system that meant that majorities were generally smaller the parties would have to work together more to pass legislation and this legislation would more reflect the needs and wants of the British people rather than this elected dictatorship that we have now.
    That sounds like it's copied from a textbook.

    What "hybrid system" do you suggest?
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    (Original post by zooropa)
    That sounds like it's copied from a textbook.
    No, it's opinion. You just rehashed the most basic arguments - you can presume here that most people know these.

    (Original post by zooropa)
    What "hybrid system" do you suggest?
    Have a look at the Electoral Reform Society website, there are plenty there.
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    I'm all for the Jenkins Alternative Vote system, proposed by the committee looking at reform.
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    FPTP also guarantees local representation. If I ever have a problem, I know I could take it to my MP, and he (being a very good constituency MP) will take it up for me. With PR, which MP do I go to? We could though replace the House of Lords with some form of PR.
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    (Original post by Machiavellian)
    FPTP also guarantees local representation. If I ever have a problem, I know I could take it to my MP, and he (being a very good constituency MP) will take it up for me. With PR, which MP do I go to?
    I agree, that is probably one of the best arguments for FPTP. PRovides genuine local democracy, and ensures that everyone has someone that they can take their concerns to.
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    You could aways get round that by having several MPs elected by PR in a particular region that allocate each one a constituency in that region.
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    The system is undoubtably unfair- in my home constituency, Ilford North (marginal), my vote counted a lot more than if I lived in Ilford South (massive Lab majority). The same could be said about where I'm living now- Runnymede and Weybridge (massive Con majority), which is why I'm getting a postal ballot from home for the local elections later this year!

    Having said that, I still favour FPTP, because as somebody commented before, it is very easy for the electorate to understand- one person, one cross on the ballot form etc,plus the good links between the constituency MP and the constituents.
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    The JAV also guarantees a local MP, and there's another odd proposal for everyone to have a "local" MP of their party on a proportional level (although the Green MP would have a lot more ground to cover than the Labour or Con ones.)

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Updated: January 23, 2006
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