Criticisms of Fptp System

Topics: House of Lords, Labour Party, Plurality voting system Pages: 2 (762 words) Published: October 31, 2005
In what ways has First Past the Post been criticised?

In Britain our voting system is called First Past the Post (FPTP). The UK is split into 646 different constituencies and each constituency elects a single MP to enter the House of Commons. The candidate with the highest number of votes automatically wins whether they have more than 50% of the votes or not. The party that forms the government however is not decided by the number of votes they receive across the country. Instead it is determined by the number of seats they have gained throughout the constituencies. The party with the most seats becomes the next government.

There are many criticisms about the FPTP system and about it's democratic values. In my opinion the main problem with FTPT is the fact many votes are wasted. Under the FPTP system anything up to around 70% of votes can be wasted in each constituency. This is because votes not for the winning candidate are simply discarded. This means that the overall number of seats won by a party is rarely proportional to the number of votes it receives across the whole country. This problem is shown very clearly by the Lib Dem's results in 2001. They won 18% of the national vote but won only 8% of the seats. How can this be seen as a fair democratic result? Surely if a party wins 18% of the votes they should have proportional representation in the House of Commons. In the FPTP system it is also possible for a party to win fewer votes than another party but still gain more seats thus becoming the new government without the majority of the nations support. This happened in 1974 when Labour won 301 seats with 37.2% of the vote while Conservatives won just 297 seats with 37.9% of the vote. Surely with these vote results it would have been a sensible decision to make Conservative the new government? However with our FPTP system this is not the case. Again the question of this systems democratic values comes into debate.

The above problem can (as...
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