Voter's Guide/United Kingdom
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.
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
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.
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%.
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)
Used for local elections in Scotland (from 2007) and Northern Ireland. STV is also used for European Elections in Northern Ireland.
Additional Member System
Used to elect the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Greater London Assembly.
Used for directly elected mayors in England.