The function of elections
Which voting systems satisfy these aims best?
Elections allow a geographical area to have a representative in a collective assembly to speak on behalf of those living in the area.
· Elections provide a means whereby the population selects a government. In the UK, the government is not directly elected but is obtained indirectly though elections to Parliament. In Parliament the party (or parties) which can secure enough seats form the government.
Elections are a mechanism of legitimacy. They confer the authority to act on others' behalf. At a constituency level, this is conferring the right of an MP to act on behalf of the area; at a national level, a government claims legitimacy to act and manage the country.
Elections are mechanisms of accountability. They hold individual MPs in constituencies to account for their role as an area representative and they hold the government to account for its management of the country.
Elections are mechanisms of choice. Not only do people choose their representatives and government, voting in an election is the expression of policy preferences, as citizens vote for certain policies and options.
Elections have an educative function. In the competitive nature of campaigning for votes, citizens become informed of the major issues concerning the state.
Elections should facilitate participation. Low levels of voter turnout will diminish legitimacy and may indicate a loss of faith in democracy.