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An Electoral System is the process used to elect a body (hopefully democratically). This could be either part of the government (such as The House of Commons, or the Senate), an assembly of some sort (such as the devolved assembly of Wales) or a student council.
For the rest of the write up most of the information will be about the government level but they might apply to other situations as well.

The electoral system that is used affects the political system of a country in several ways:

  • It affects whether there are constituencies or not. Not all electoral systems need constituencies to work.

  • It affects the extent of the representation of the people and the way this is done. For example, some systems allow for a link between the constituents and their representative (either a MP or a Congressman/Senator).

  • Also there is the area of representation of small parties, such as the Liberal Democrats and the Green party in the UK. Some systems allow smaller parties to be represented more fairly.

  • It affects the apathy of the electorate. A lot of the time the type of electoral system can cause people to become more apathetic because they either: find the system too complicated, they think that it is unrepresentative, that there is no point because the outcome is predictable or they think that their vote will not change anything.

  • The type of party system that the country has will also be affected. Some electoral systems encourage more varied political parties and other systems often allow only a few to dominate so, for example, the UK party system has been classed as a three party system (Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats), a two party (Labour and the Conservatives) and a dominant (where one of the major parties is in for long periods of time e.g. during the last century when the Conservatives were in power most of the time, about 70 odd years!) and this is due to the First Past the Post system that is currently employed. The USA is easily classed as a two party system due to the strength of the Democrats and the Republicans. In most systems there are multiple parties but the lack of proportionality in the system makes it difficult for them to recieve recognition (and therefore power).

  • It can also in some cases affect the way that government operates. Some electoral systems always produce coalition government and others never produce coalitions (some are inbetween).

These systems can be split into majoritarian systems, plurality systems, proportional systems and hybrid systems. Majoritarian systems require the candidate to win the majority of the votes to gain power. Proportional systems distribute power according to a candidate/party's proportion of votes. PR is not an electoral system! Many people call it such but it isn't. There is no system called 'PR' which sets out a way of proportional voting. There are different systems which fit under the title or being proportionally representative. Hybrid systems mix these two to get the advantages (and disadvantages) of both.

Examples of electoral systems are:

/msg me if you have noded any others

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