Winners may be determined by a plurality, a majority (more than 50% of the vote), an extraordinary majority (a percentage of the vote greater than 50%), or unanimity. Candidates for public office may be elected directly or indirectly. Proportional representation is used in some areas to ensure a fairer distribution of legislative seats to constituencies that may be denied representation under the plurality or majority formulas. Common voting systems are majority rule, proportional representation or plurality voting with a number of alterations and methods such as first-past-the-post or preferential voting.
Electoral systems are designed to fulfil a number of often conflicting functions such as reflecting the wishes of voters, producing strong and stable governments, electing qualified representatives. In selecting a particular design of electoral system, the ‘electoral engineers’ have to take important decisions about which function to stress most. As a result no two countries have the same electoral system. There are many different types of electoral systems used around the world, moreover within individual countries different electoral systems may be found in different regions and at different level of government, e. . Committees of all kinds elect new chairman and trade unions elect members to their national councils. Less frequently though there are general elections to parliament. Electoral systems can be divided into three general types; plurality electoral systems, Majority electoral systems and Proportional representation. Plurality systems may also be called “first-past-the-post” or “winner-take-all” systems, plurality systems basically award a seat to the individual candidate who obtains the most votes in an election.
The candidate need not get a majority (50 %+) of the vote to win; so long as he has a superior number of votes than all other candidates, he is declared the winner. Plurality systems normally depend on single-member constituencies, and allow voters to indicate only one vote on their ballot (by pulling a single lever, punching a hole in the ballot, making an X, etc. ) Plurality electoral systems also tend to foster the growth of relatively stable political systems dominated by two major parties (a phenomenon known as “Duverger’s Law”).
Elections for the House of Commons in the United Kingdom use the plurality system. Under party list forms of PR, voters normally vote for parties rather than for individual candidates. Under a closed party list system the parties themselves determine who will fill the seats that they have been allocated; voters vote only for a particular party, and then it is up to the party to decide which party members will actually serve as representatives. Legislative elections in Germany are conducted according to such a system.
The debate has focused mainly on the choice of an electoral formula and this logical to start with that dimension. The dominant debate in the literature has been between plurality and PR systems. One basic argument in favour of the plurality rule is that it produces one-party majority government, while PR is advocated because it produces broad and fair representation. (LeDuc, 2002). One party government is a good thing for two reasons. They are believed to be more stable therefore enhancing political stability. Although most coalition governments in PR systems are reasonably stable.
Germany has one of the most stable governments and economies in the EU at this moment in time, while the PIGS are struggling through to the recent economic crisis. This is argued by Lijphart, A (1994), where he states that PR systems in fact perform better than plurality countries such as UK on crucial indicators such as economic growth, the incidence of strikes and political violence. A general election must be called at least once every five years, within that period the prime minister is free to call an election at any time. The last election in the UK David Cameron was elected as prime minister.
Analysts and partitions have debated the issue of which is the best electoral system for more than a century. There is a wide range of options available especially if you take account of the possibility of combining these options in various ways. Secondly it is easier for voters in a plurality system to get rid of a government is they do not like them, they just throw them out in the next election and replace them with a new government. In a PR system, the fate of a government is decided only partly and indirectly by votes. A party may lose support but still remain a member of a coalition government.
Therefore one party majority government are more accountable than their coalition counterparts. However there is no guarantee in a single-member plurality system that the party with the most votes overall will actually form the government. The choice between plurality and PR is thus mostly about what is deemed to be more important, accountably and stability on one hand and responsiveness on the other which the PR system offers. The UK is divided into a 651 territorial single-member constituencies, each electing one MP; this can be classed as a district magnitude.
This is the main feature distinguishing proportional and non-proportional systems. The election contest in each constituency is between candidates not between parties which is the case in list systems. Voters within each constituency cast a single ballot (marked by an X) for their preferred candidate. The successful candidate is the one who receives most votes. The candidate does not have to win an overall minority of votes, but must only have more votes than anyone else, or a plurality of support therefore making this electoral formula a plurality election.
Plurality elections predate the development of parties, and modern notions of representative democracy The British electoral system has evolved through a continuous series of amendments. The most significant have widened the franchise, abolished dual-member constituencies, removed corrupt practices, and standardized electoral administration. Suffrage was extended in successive Reform Acts to the middle and working classes (1832, 1967, 1884), to women (1918, 1928), and to younger voters (1969). In Britain, unlike as Italy, New Zealand, Israel and Japan, the reform movement to date has failed to produce substantive change.
The primary reasons, it can be argued, are threefold: the movement in favour of electoral reform has been primarily elite-driven, and the public mood remains uncertain and generally indifferent (Kellner, 1992); even if public opinion became aroused to the urgent need for change, there are no constitutional provisions for the sort of binding referendums which are open to citizens in Italy and New Zealand; finally, the Labour Party remains at best deeply divided on the issue while the governing Conservative Party remains implacably opposed.
In the Germany there is a ‘two vote’ system in place; one vote, the primary vote for constituency MPs, and a second vote for list MPs, a major difference from the UK’s ballot structure. If a party receives 10percent of the popular vote, it should revive 10percernt of the Bundestag seats. Just like in the UK the candidate with the most votes in each constituency are elected, regardless of whether or not they have an overall majority of the votes in the constituency.
An exception to this PR system is the 5per cent clause, which requires a party to win at least 5percent of the national vote in order to share in the distribution of party-list seats. The 5percent clause can handicap all minor parties and lessens the number of parties represented in the Bundestag. The Constituency seats are determined on the basis of FPTP exactly like the UK.
The PR system ensures fair representation for the smaller parties. The FDP for example, has won only one direct candidate mandate from 1957 and yet it receives Bundestag seats based on its national share of the vote (Almond. G, 2010). In contrast, the UK’s district only system discriminates against small parties, in 2005 the British Liberal democrats won 22. 1 percent of the national vote but less than 10percent of the parliamentary seats.
The German system has been described as the ideal compromise in building an electoral system due to its mixed features such as allowing party leaders substantial influence on who will be elected to parliament by the placement of people on the list, fair representation for smaller parties and the affects it has on campaign strategies. A regular criticism of the British system is that there can be wide vacillations in policy as power changes hands between the Conservations and Labour and that this can be damaging for long term interests.
By Contrast, German governments tend to exhibit greater degrees of policy continuity over time-regardless of which parties are in power. The German constituency MP’s operate in a similar fashion to British constituency Mps and both are seen as significant within the system. It has been stressed by Geoffrey Roberts, 1975 that the German political culture differs from the UK’s in that German MP’s do not have ‘sensitivity towards the constituency relationship’. Germany is also a federation where votes have multiple levels of representatives e. g.
Land politicians to choose from when raising constituency problems while is Britain there are high levels of grievances such as the territory disrupt concerning Northern Ireland (Bogdanor, 1984) In conclusion there is no such thing as a perfect electoral system; there are both comparisons and contrasts between the UK and Germanys electoral systems. The UK has a Plurality, First-Past-The-Post, two-Round System and alternative Vote, while Germany semi-proportional list, parallel electoral system.