Britain’s FPTP system is an inherently two-party one. Barring the two wartime governments and the Liberal Democrats’ recent five-year stint in a coalition with the Conservatives, only the Conservatives and the Labour Party have won an election since 1910. Voters are given a clear choice between these mostly opposed parties. Therefore, the FPTP winner takes all approach pays dividends, delivering a clear winner from these two.
As part of the coalition agreement, it was decided that a referendum would be held on changing the voting system for elections to the Westminster Parliament to the alternative vote (AV). On Thursday 5 May 2011 the referendum produced a clear result against this change: 67.9% (13 million) were against change, 32.1% (6 million) were in favour. This now in effect halts any possible electoral reform- for a considerable period. However, we can still ascertain competing views about the suitability of first-past-the-post (FPTP) as used in the Westminster elections.
Should we continue with the first-past-the-post electoral voting system for Westminster elections? Reasons for saying NO
Should we continue with the first-past-the-post electoral voting system for Westminster elections?
Reasons for saying YES:
The general elections of 1979 and 1997 were seen as representing a 'sea change' or major shift in public opinion; the FPTP system can reflect this prevailing mood
No system which has gained widespread support and can deliver the benefits of FPTP has yet been presented to the public
Reflects broad popular movements
Poor alternatives on offer
No demand for change
The outcome of the referendum on 5 May ended any question that the current system was unpopular and that change was desired