essay 1 : evaluate the case for introducing PR into uk general elections?
The UK’s current method for general elections is first to pass the post. Some people may argue that first to pass the post generates an unfair and un representative system in an ironically ‘democratic’ country. Reasons for introducing an alternative system (Proportional representation) will be discussed for the duration of this essay.
Proportional representation(PR) defines an electoral system where a proportional outcome is produced. A proportional outcome would be an outcome where the number of votes cast are equal to seats gained. The single transferable vote (stv) and additional members system(AMS) are considered the best examples of PR.
Some would argue the case for introducing PR, this is because it produces a proportional outcome, making smaller parties feel more inclusive in politics. For example, under the current system FTPTP, smaller parties such as the DUP were awarded with 10 seats however only gained 0.7% of the vote in the 2017 general election. Some would argue that the DUP’s seats are majorly concentrated in Northern Ireland, where it is geographically considerably smaller than the rest of the UK. The introduction of proportional representation may help enable a party like DUP get their votes to match the number of seats that are gained, therefore arguing the case for proportional representation in UK general elections.
In spite of this, others, such as larger parties would argue against the case for introducing proportional representation, this is because proportional representation may wither away 2 party dominance making , possibly the UK a multi-party system. Parties such as the conservatives and labour with lose a considerable number of seats whereas on the other hand smaller parties like UKIP and the liberal democrats would gain a considerable amount of seats. For example, taking the 2017 general election under a ‘proportional system’ the conservatives would have gained 275 seats, 43 seats less than under FTPTP. For a small party like the liberal democrats, the would have gained 48 seats, 36 seats more than under FTPTP. These figures demonstrate the idea that larger parties would lose their majority meaning that smaller parties now have more chance of making a government threatening larger parties’ stance. Therefore, depicting the idea that some would argue against the case for introducing PR into UK general elections.
Nevertheless, many would back the case for proportional representation, this is because proportional representation provides a multi-party system as demonstrated in the German political system. Many would argue that this is better for English politics as any government governing on a minority or in a coalition must seek a consensus. This in turn would strengthen democracy in the UK. Therefore, some would argue the case for introducing proportional representation into UK general elections.
Proportional representation is already used in the UK for elections to Scottish parliament and London’s mayoral elections. Some would argue against the case for introducing proportional representation because it is a complex system which may not be understood by the public. For example, during the 2011 coalition the liberal democrats held a referendum on introducing the alternative voting system into the UK. The outcome of the referendum resulted in AV not being adopted by the UK. Many believe that it was for a number of reasons but mainly because it is a multi-part system that many may not have understood and therefore saw no relevance in its adoption. Therefore, arguing against the case for introducing proportional representation.
The UK is one of the remaining democracies that still use plurality voting systems. It is reported that proportional representation can increase turnout as demonstrated when New Zealand changed its voting system from FTPTP to PR in 1996. A study in New Zealand showed that in the case of PR turnout was 7% higher. It is argued that this is because the electorate have more choice and may not find themselves wasting their votes under PR. With the UK’s declining turnout due to a loss of public interest and other factors, the introduction of proportional representation may be able to raise the interests of the public as they ultimately have more choice and are not forced to vote tactically or waste their vote. This argues the case for the introduction of proportional representation in the UK’s general elections.
Many would argue that the introduction of proportional representation would pave the way for extremist groups like UKIP to form a government. If the 2015 general election was held under PR, UKIP would have been the third largest party in parliament with 83 seats rather than the 1 under FTPTP. This argues the case against PR as the populist party has sought to be an extreme nationalist and xenophobic group.
The strongest case for introducing proportional representation would be that it allows smaller parties to breakthrough in UK politics giving a fair and more representative system. Meanwhile the strongest case against the use of proportional representation would be that it would demolish 2 party dominance in the UK , therefore threatening the dominance of labour and the conservative party which has been maintained for many years. The weakest case for proportional representation would be the case that PR increases turnout. The evidence supporting this idea is weak as it has only been proven in one democracy nevertheless it could still be proven in the UK. The weakest case against proves to be the idea that it allows extremist parties to possibly form a government. The case for it is not certain and cannot be proven until a proportional system is introduced.
essay 2: evaluate the use of referendums to determine important political conflicts ?
Referendums are defined as a vote used a regional, local and national levels where members of the electorate are asked a question where the answer requires a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. referendums are not legally binding therefore any government could go against the wishes of the public, nevertheless many governments refrain from doing so. There are many arguments For and against the use of referendums which will be discussed further in this essay.
Many would argue for the use of referendums in the UK, this is because referendums are the purest form of democracy. For example, the most recent referendum was the 2016 Brexit referendum where the result was very marginal. 51% voted for leave ,49% for remain. Here, the results show that the people of Britain want to leave the European union. Despite many people calling for a second referendum, the prime minister has binded to the result and will not call another referendum. This reinstates the strength of democracy in the UK. This therefore argues for the use of referendums to determine important political issues.
Some would argue against the use of referendums to determine important political issues. As indicated in the source ‘the referendum campaign was dogged with controversy about, misinformation and lack of clarity’, therefore implying that decisions made by electorate were ill-informed and miscalculated upon ill-depth information. Therefore arguing that people may not understand the complexities and depth to some political issues which are questioned in a referendum arguing the case against the use of referendums to determine important political issues.
Referendums are proven to solve important political rifts. For example during the 2016 referendum , the conservative party was massively split between the Brexiteers and the non-brexiteers. This caused the eruption of the miller case which eventually led to the 2016 referendum. The source identifies that the referendum ‘settled the issue after many years of political conflict’. This implies that referendums are very important as they help solve rifts which could potentially threaten the stability of the government where a loss of trust and cohesion in the government could occur. Therefore arguing that referendums are important to determine important political issues.
Some may argue against the use of referendums to solve important political issues as the source indicates that the electorate were heavily swayed by the media , ‘ most popular tabloids campaigning relentlessly for a ‘leave’ vote’. This indicates the idea that the public were being blasted with campaigns about leaving the EU, therefore fast tracking an uncalculated and unreasoned decision based on bias information. For example the main tabloids , ‘the sun’, ‘daily mail’ and ‘daily mirror’ were hitting viewers with ruthless headlines such as ‘BeLeave in Britain’, ‘if you believe in Britain vote leave’ and ‘Cameron’s migration deception’. It is believed that the newspapers printed over 3 million papers backing the leave campaign. This could of heavily influenced decisions on leaving the EU. Therefore, many would argue against the use of referendums.
Despite the arguments against, many would argue that referendums should be used because the electorate are more informed than ever before. In the contemporary world we live in there is now access to the most media than ever before especially with the likes of social media, people can inform and update themselves on the political issue. Furthermore, with the emergence of e-democracy, campaigns for referendum will help equally balance the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ side of the arguments.
Many would argue against the use of referendums to settle political issues. This is because sometimes voters may be influenced by emotion rather than what is politically and economically correct. Many would argue that traditional, older voters are more likely to vote, in the case of Brexit, ‘no’. This may be because of traditional values surrounding immigration, voters as such may be xenophobic, which would heavily impact their decision. This differs from younger more liberal voters who are more likely to vote ‘yes’, this is because youngers voters tend to have more sympathy, since they are less experienced and are faced with tolerance day to day. This would have impacted such voter’s decisions heavily as opposed to voting consider the benefits of economics and politics. Therefore, arguing the case against the use of referendums in the UK.
The strongest case for the use of referendums in the UK is that it ‘creates both legitimacy and public consent for the decision’. In other words, referendums strengthen democracy in the UK despite being legally binding. Meanwhile the strongest case against the use of referendums to determine important political issues is the argument that information used is often ‘biased and misleading’. This is the strongest as there is plenty of evidence to prove that the media can pose biased information to sway voters in the UK. The weakest argument against the use of referendums is the argument that voters are often swayed by emotion rather than the benefits of each ‘yes’ and ‘no’. It is the weakest argument as there is no evidence which can prove how many people vote by emotion rather than setting out the pros and cons. Meanwhile the weakest evidence for is the argument that individuals are more informed about politics. It is the weakest argument because many would argue that a lot of information used to educate people about politics comes from the media, where the reliability and accuracy of the information used is questioned. Therefore some could argue that people could technically still be ill-informed about politics.
I would also make your conclusion more concise, rather than repeating 'this is the weakest...' over and over again.