Voter's Guide/United Kingdom

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The next general election in the United Kingdom will be in 2015. Elections are held every 5 years (previously governments could call early elections) Local elections are held around once a year in most areas.

Voting Systems[edit]

In order to ensure you cast your vote in line with your beliefs it is important to understand the voting system.


First Past the Post[edit]

Used for general elections and local elections in England and Wales.


The electoral system of first past the post, know as a single member constituency, is when a particular candidate wins when they receive more votes than their rival. A majority vote is not required. There are 659 constituencies within the UK, each one elects a single member.

Pros :

No Confusion – Voters are required to make a single cross on the ballot, next to their favoured candidate – Rather than rank prospective candidates.

Speed – Results can be calculated relatively quickly, therefore local and national results are known speedily.

Accountability – Each constituency has a particular MP to who esquires and correspondence can be directed.

Clear Results – Results are relatively indisputable With 10 candidates the winner can be clear, even if they only received 15%, with the nearest rival on 14.5%.

Cons :

Representation 1 - As in the above example, a candidate can be elected to represent a constituency when the majority of constituents did not vote for that candidate.

Representation 2 - Following on from above example, but on a nation level, candidates for parties who come second of third may receive a substantial proportion of the national vote but gain a small proportion of the available parliamentary seat. (eg. In 1992 the Liberal Democrats won 18% of the national vote but only 3% of the seats)

Single Transferable Vote (STV)[edit]

Used for local elections in Scotland (from 2007) and Northern Ireland. STV is also used for European Elections in Northern Ireland.

Additional Member System[edit]

Used to elect the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Greater London Assembly.

Supplementary Vote[edit]

Used for directly elected mayors in England.