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Sunday, 10 May 2015

First-past-the-post voting anomaly in General Election 2015

© The Mirror
General Election 2015 was predicted to be the election that saw the growth of newer political parties like Ukip in the House of Commons.

However, it rather more highlighted an anomaly in the first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system.

Ukip achieved nearly 4 million votes, which equated to just one seat in the House of Commons. In contrast, the SNP achieved 1.5 million votes, which resulted in 56 Westminster parliamentary seats.

After Britain voted a resounding No to AV in the 2011 referendum, this 2015 election result has led to renewed calls for voting reform, with many favouring proportional representation (PR), which is currently used in the UK to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

The problem with PR is that it can lead to perpetual coalitions, seen in other European political systems, and the rise of all sorts of smaller parties, including those like the BNP.

It also means there is no direct voting for a constituency member and it makes it very difficult to vote them out.

It puts the power in the hands of the parties. They rank the candidates in order of priority and it is therefore less democratic.

It is also a complicated system that few will want to spend the time getting to understand.

Alternative voting systems have been used by parties in candidate selections. Party members tend to dislike them, because they can lead to peculiar outcomes.

The complex voting calculations are put in the hands of others and, as a candidate, it is difficult to verify if they are correct.

Humans make mistakes and sometimes invent ways to manipulate results.

FPTP is the simplest and easiest to verify for accuracy, because even the lay person can keep an eye on things at the count and all parties can be included in that process without too arduous a process.

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