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UK General Elections - Assignment Example

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After Labour Party won the 2005 general election of UK with the support of only a fifth of the adult population, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt publicly called for a debate on reforming the voting system in the country. Her remarks came amidst growing demands by political campaigners for a review of the voting system (Russell, 2005)…
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UK General Elections
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Download file to see previous pages Basically, this is achieved through awarding political freedom to all people as it is the main platform for the masses to express themselves. The values of liberal democracy are reflected in its basic system where continuous efforts are undertaken to see that no group enjoys special privileges in the society. The values of liberal democracy can therefore be found in a society which struggles to develop through talent and merit rather than rank, privilege and status. The values of liberal democracy are also seen in programmes and policies aimed at restricting the Government intervention in political, economic and moral matters of the citizens. To enrich a democracy with these values, the political system is generally supported by a written constitution which clearly defines the powers and responsibilities of the executive, judiciary and legislature (liberal democracy).
Presently, the UK general elections are held as per the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system. It is also known as plurality system, relative majority system or winner- take-all system. In this, a voter votes for a single candidate and the majority vote-getter among all the contesting candidates would be the winner in a particular constituency. For example, in a 1000-voter constituency, a candidate getting 4oo votes would be the winner if the other 3 contesting candidates receive 200 votes each. Though 400 out of 1000 votes is a clear minority, the number is higher than that of any of the other 3 candidates. It indicates that this system is endowed with the flaw of electing candidates / parties with minority vote, as the majority vote is divided among several contestants / parties. This is the most disadvantageous system but unfortunately most of the world democracies have been adopting this system for many years. This has brought embarrassment to the English in several elections including the 1983 general election in which Conservatives bagged 397 seats in the House of Commons with a minority vote (Hallowell, 2002, P 103).
This situation has repeated in 2005 general elections too in the UK with the Labour party gaining power with a minority vote. The resulting disadvantage is that, though it is a representative government, majority voice is not heard in legislatures. This system has the capacity to curtail the political freedom of the majority of people, the basic ingredient of the liberal democracy. To put it the other way, the total number of seats gained by a particular party in the general elections would not be proportionate to the total number of votes received by it.
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The alternative systems
Preferential voting system
There are some alternative systems too with regard to voting in a democracy. Let us discuss some of them. The preferential voting system is a method in which the voters are asked to express their preference of candidates in order of priority. In this, voters generally cast their votes by ranking the participating candidates in order of their priority. On the voting slip or card, the names of all candidates are printed and empty boxes are provided against each candidate. When there are 5 candidates, a voter provides rankings for all of them indicating 1,2,3,4 and 5 depending on his/her preference. Most ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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