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The Post Electoral System

Types of voting systems in United Kingdom

Acknowledgement on Post Electoral System

It is not possible for a single person to successfully conduct the entire research. He needs to take help and support from various persons so as to make his study success. Therefore, I am thankful to my mentor, my colleagues and all the supporting staff who made huge contributions in this work. Apart from these, I am thankful to all the respondents who during the survey process helped me in collecting valid and authentic data. It is because of them only that I am able to justify my research. Finally, I owe my gratitude towards my parents who continuously motivated me and acted as pillars of strength.

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ABSTRACT

The present dissertation is all about to know and explain about the insights of the process of referendum that was held on May 5, 2011 in the United Kingdom. The question asked in this was on acceptance of a new system of voting, that is the alternative vote, in place of the present one, that is, first pats the post method. But this was rejected and people wanted to continue with the present system. The report is about to know the various reasons which lead to the rejection of the referendum and eventually the alternative method.

The main aim is to identify the advantages and disadvantages of both the method of voting so that it could be known as to why the new method was rejected. In order to reach at te best results, the researcher has applied quantitative and qualitative methodology.

The information will be collected through a questionnaire and after its accumulation, it will be analyzed with help of forming themes. It is known as thematic analysis and themes are made on a fixed criteria.

Chapter 1 -INTRODUCTION

1.1 Overview

An electoral system of a country is a method which is used to calculate the number of positions elected in a government which are then awarded to parties or individuals after elections. It is the way in which votes can be seats are translated from votes especially in areas of ruling party. A voting system is a combination of options through which voters make choice either in an election or a referendum. There are various methods of electoral systems which are followed in different countries, namely, first past the post, majority, proportional representation and party list voting systems (Qvortrup, 2011).

United Kingdom also applies a particular type of voting system. The important one among them is the first past the post method of voting. This technique is used for election of member of parliaments (MPs) to the House of Commons and also for local elections in and Wales and England. Under this, the local authority or UK is divided into a number of voting areas which are called as wards or constituencies. When a local or general election is held, public who cast vote put a cross (X) on the ballot paper next to the candidate preferred by them. It is also known as the plurality system. The one who receives the highest votes is elected to represent the ward or constituency (First Past the Post, 2013). This method of voting is quite popular and is used widely across many countries all over the globe including United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

1.2 Focus and Purpose of Research

Focus

The main focus of the research is to find the reasons as to why the first past the post system of voting was continued in the election by the electorate of United Kingdom and why alternative voting system was rejected.

Aim – The aim of investigation of this particular research is to have an understanding of the process of referendum and to find out that why does the United Kingdom still uses the first past the post electoral system in 1997-2011elections.

Objectives – In order to realize the above aim, the following objectives need to be fulfilled.

  • To determine the advantages of using the First Past the Post Electoral System.
  • To identify the reasons of rejection of alternative voting system in the referendum.
  • To compare and contrast the two systems of voting.

Purpose

Not much research is done on the referendum conducted by the United Kingdom on using an alternative form of voting system in the country. The system in use was the First Past the Post which was proposed to be changed and alternative system to be implemented. But this thought was rejected by public and asked to continue the earlier method of casting votes. And the government continued with the first past the post system. The referendum was about to know the views of people on this subject. This research is done to gain an insight of about what happened in the referendum and why the alternative technique was rejected (Smith and Clark, 2005).

1.3 Research Questions

In order to fulfill the purpose of a research some answers to below mentioned questions need to be known-

  • What are the advantages of implementing the First Past the Post Electoral System in the country?
  • What might be the reasons of rejection of alternative voting system in the referendum?
  • How can the two systems be compared?

CHAPTER 2 -LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Voting or Electoral system

A voting or electoral system is the practice of allowing voters to choose among various options available in an election of a country. They are given an opportunity to make a choice freely and choose the one who they think as the best representative and leader. This system ensures to the public that fair means are implemented for the selection of the leading party and votes are counted appropriately to come to the final outcome. People are able to select freely their own leader so that they are satisfied with decision thee have taken (Cox, 1997).

2.2 Types of voting systems in United Kingdom

In U.K., it is the House of Commons who decide upon the electoral systems implemented in the country for the selection of various representatives. This along with the House of Lords makes use of different systems for the processes of internal elections. They are as follows-

  • First Past the Post System – this is used for the selection of Member of Parliament or MPs for the House of Commons. This is also used in Wales and England for local elections. In this method, voters put a cross mark on the ballot paper adjacent to that candidate whom they prefer to become the leader.
  • Alternative voting – This is used for electing a majority of chairs of a committee selected in the House of Commons. Moreover, the system is also used for selecting the lord speaker. In this method, voters will rank the candidates according to their order of preference (White, I. and Durkin, 2008).
  • Supplementary vote – This system is used for the selection of the Mayor of England and also in Wales. This is somewhat similar to alternative voting. The only difference here is that voters are allowed to give only two of their preferences of the candidates.
  • Single Transferable Vote – Deputy Speakers are selected through this in the House of Commons. Also, it selects Northern Ireland Assembly. In addition to it, this system is also used in elections of European Parliament in Northern Ireland and in Scotland for local elections. In this, voters rank the candidates according to their preference. Here, the difference is that if a nominee receives extra votes as compared to that required from filling the quotas then these surplus votes are then passed on to the remaining candidates.
  • Additional Member System - The method is used for election for the parliament of Scotland and the London Assembly. The National Assembly for Wales is also elected through this system. In this, voters are given an additional chance to cast two votes. One vote is for an individual candidate who is elected for constituencies and the other is for a party for a larger region (King, 2000).
  • Closed Party List – Members of European Parliament are elected with the help of this system. In this voters place a cross against the party they most prefer and want to be their leader.

The forms of voting systems discussed above are implemented in UK for the election purposes.

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2.3 First Past the Post System

It has been argued that the government of United Kingdom still used this system for casting votes and did not adopt the alternative voting system in time for the 2011 general elections. Also known as the plurality system, a first past the post system is a convenient and reliable system due to its operational simplicity. After the completion of process of the voting method, , counting of votes is also very easy as ballot papers are counted and result can be interpreted quickly. Below are some of the advantages of using this method which might be the reasons behind using this technique for casting vote.

  • Since this is simple and easy to understand, it helps the public to make a clear choice between two major parties or the individuals standing for the elections.
  • It helps to raise the system of single party governments in the country which is beneficial for the political scenario of the country. Also, a stable government is produced and established with the help of this system (Blais, 2008).
  • A coherent opposition is also raised through this in the legislature. It means that opposition is also given a fair chance. They are also provided with a good number of seats so that it can present itself as an alternative.
  • A two party system can be produced by this which in turn leads to a government of single party. Now the later does not need to rely on receiving support from other parties in order to pass any legislation.
  • With this, a link can be produced between constituents and representatives of these. This is so because it will establish a legislature which is made up of different geographical areas consisting of councils in each area. Members who are elected will then be able to lead areas defined in terms of towns or cities (Plattner and Diamond, 2006).
  • By implementing this system, it is able to exclude the extremist parties from representing in the legislation of United Kingdom
  • It allows public to make a choice not between two parties but also between two individuals. The voters will be able to vote for multi personnel instead of voting for a party through which it is decided that who should be selected. As voters, they have the right to evaluate the performance of persons rather than just accepting the candidates’ list as provided by the party. In addition to this, efficient individual candidates also have a chance to get elected in the elections.
  • But apart from the benefits of the plurality system of voting it possess certain disadvantages. They are listed below-
  • This form of election excludes the smaller parties as well as minors from fairly representing in the elections. It is given that a party which wins about 10 percent of the total number of votes must also win approximately the same percentage of seats in the legislation. It might be possible that the number of seats mentioned may not be won by a smaller party who has less number of members in it. Same way, by the rule, a party must put forward its most popular member so now in this case it is quite rare for a black candidate to stand in the nominations.
  • This system of voting leads into a wastage of a large number of votes. This happens because votes casted for losing candidates and also for winning ones above a level required to win a seat are neither counted nor transferred so that it results into wastage.
  • It can also result into a case of vote splitting. In this, when two similar candidates or parties compete against each other under first post the past system, votes of the supports are spitted between the two. This will give a less popular candidate or party a chance to win if it is not capable to win.

CHAPTER 3 -RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.1 Introduction

Research methodology is defined as a framework which provides the guidelines as to how a research can be done in a specific subject. It involves activities that need to be included in a study and how to proceed further in the direction of research. The methodology of research includes in it various techniques and tools in order to get to know a final conclusion of the thesis conducted. It helps to evaluate the vast information on a particular subject which can be used for the research purpose (Kumar, 2005). There are various approaches that need to be adopted by a researcher. Therefore, one should have an insight into different methods of conducting a research.

In the present dissertation, the methodology adopted will help to know the reasons as to why the government of United Kingdom did not adopted a new form of casting vote known as alternative vote for the elections in 2011. This will also let to know that why the referendum conducted in May 2011 was rejected by the public. The methods implemented in this research will be able to give a complete explanation about voting system followed in UK. Apart from this, justification will also be provided on the use of a particular methodology in the research. The researcher will have to analyze the various reasons behind favoring of the present system of voting by the public, that is, first past the post one and also why did they not want alternative vote to come in function.

The one doing the research will also provide an insight as to how the procedure of referendum takes place and why public rejected this particular one held in May 2011 in the UK.

3.2 Research Aims & Objectives

Aim – The aim of investigation of this particular research is to know about how a referendum is conducted and also to know the reasons that why the electorate of United Kingdom continued with the same system of voting in the elections of 2011.

Objectives – In order to realize the above aim, the following objectives need to be fulfilled.

  • To identify the reasons of rejection of alternative voting system in the referendum.
  • To compare and contrast the two systems of voting.
  • To determine the advantages of using the First Past the Post Electoral System.

3.3 Research Approach

There are mainly two approaches to be used in a research study. They are deductive and inductive approaches. Inductive approach is an open ended one and its nature is that of exploratory type. In this, research is started by first collecting data on the subject under study. Following this, data is analyzed along with patterns of the topic and then form a theory. The movement of information is from a specific aspect to a more general one (Chilisa, 2011). In other words, it is a bottom to top approach which includes moving from a specific or definitive to a general perception.

On the other hand, deductive approach is just the reverse of the earlier one. In this, the information initiates at a general level which are then tested with the data collected. Here, hypothesis are tested which is emerged from the existing theories. It is the movement from a general approach towards a specific one (Spens and Kovács, 2006).

In the current report, inductive approach will be adopted since here no hypothesis will be formed. Also, data will be collected first and then from it inferences can be obtained as to why the referendum was rejected.

CHAPTER 4 -CONCLUSIONS

After completing the analysis of data that was collected the various conclusions related to it can be drawn. It is true that the system of referendum is widely accepted by the general public but on the other side, it can also be said that there might be various flaws related to the system. From the data collected and analyzed, it can be concluded that according to people of United Kingdom they think that it is an appropriate approach to know their opinion on various issues. The referendum that took place in May 2011 in UK was also considered to be a novel approach to find the ideas of people. Most of the citizens of the nation think as this as a good method of getting opinion of people. But, on the other side, this referendum is an expensive one also as it requires a lot of expenditure of the government.

The process of referendum has a lot of affect on the entire constitution of the nation. It is mostly agreed by the citizens of the pubic that this will have an effect on the structure of the country as the opinion of all citizens who are eligible to vote will be taken into consideration. During the process of referendum that was held in May 2011 in United Kingdom, different campaigns are formed for the two methods of voting, that is, the first past the post electoral system and the alternative voting method. In this, a fair campaigning is allowed for both the systems so that none of the groups belonging to the two campaigns have the complained that anyone of them has not been given an equal chance. It is agreed by most of the people that during this referendum, fair chance was given to the campaigners of two voting systems. It also came out that not most of the people are aware of the entire process of referendum. Though steps are taken for increasing the level of awareness about this but still the information is not reached to most of them.

While comparing both the methods of electoral system, it came out that most of people agree to the fact that first past the post system is a better and suitable approach for the election of a party. It is regarded that through this system, it not only becomes easy for election of a party which can form a government of the country but through this voters will be able to vote for multi personnel also. It is possible because as voters it will be possible for them to evaluate the performance of persons and not just accept the list of candidates as provided.

The reason for rejection of the alternative vote system in the referendum and accept the first past the post method over the alternative one is that there are many drawbacks for the later one as compared to the other. One of them is the process through which the alternative method is carried on. In this, ranking of the candidates is done by the voters. Because of this, a candidate who gets defeated in the first round of elections, there are chances that he can get accepted at other levels also. This can lead to a disproportion in the selection procedure. Due to this reason, it is disagreed by most of the people that this process of ranking is will not be able to win over the first past the post electoral system.

It is because of the various drawbacks of the alternative system that it is rejected by most of the people in the referendum on May 5, 2011 in UK. Though the first past the post method (FPTP) has certain drawbacks within it, but they are not much than that of the alternative system. So, it is agreed by most of the citizens of the nation that the former system, that is, FPTP shall be continued for the election of House of Commons in UK. According to the public, the method of voting which is being followed at present, that is, the FPTP can result in the formation of a stable government. This is so because in this method, a system of two party can be produced which eventually lead to a single party government. This system of government of single party is beneficial for the entire nation as there will be no confusion as to which party is selected for the House of Commons.

Therefore, it can be concluded that while comparing both the methods of voting, the first post the past method is still appreciated and so it was again accepted in the referendum.

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REFERENCES

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  • Data Sampling Techniques - Meaning and Different Types of Techniques. 2013. Available through: < http://www.managementstudyguide.com/data-sampling-techniques.htm > [Accessed on 23rd March 2013].
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  • Positivists vs. Interpretivists. 2009. [Online]. Available through: <http://marytrouble.blogspot.in/2009/05/positivists-vs-interpretivists.html>. [Accessed on 23rd March2013].
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