Lesson 2, Topic 5
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Elections and Electoral Systems

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In this section we will explore four voting systems, there will be one short explanatory video for each system and at the end there will be a short quiz and you will be asked to choose which voting system you think the UK should use in general elections. You might find it useful to bullet point the pros and cons of each system as you watch the videos.

First Past the Post (FPTP)

In the UK, first past the post (FPTP) is the voting system used in UK general elections. It is the most simple voting system in that whoever receives the most votes wins. Watch this video to find out more about FPTP in the context of the 2019 General Election.

FPTP is far from flawless, there are many alternative voting system that have been proposed as potential replacements to FPTP, lets explore some of those systems.

Alternative Vote (AV)

Alternative Vote (AV) is one alternative voting system. Below is a video to watch which explains how AV compares to FPTP, and how neither of these voting systems are faultless. But before you watch the video, some additional context is needed…

In the Liberal Democrat’s 2010 manifesto they promised to change the FPTP voting system. When David Cameron’s Conservative Party achieved the most seats in the election, but fell short of the number needed to form a majority, Cameron formed a coalition partnership with Nick Cleg’s Lib Dems which meant the Lib Dems would support the Conservatives on major votes. As part of the negotiations to determine what their coalition partnership would look like, Cameron agreed to allow the Lib Dems to have a referendum on whether to adopt Alternative Vote as the voting system. Cameron’s Conservatives campaigned against AV and Clegg’s Lib Dems campaigned in favour, and Labour were split on the issue. The referendum was held in 2011 and AV was rejected by 67.9% of voters and turnout was 42%, compared to 75.7% for the Brexit referendum.

Below is one of the many videos released in the run up to the referendum to inform people about what Alternative Vote means in practice.

Why do you think the AV lost by so much in the 2011 referendum? If you are interested, here is an article exploring 10 reasons why AV was rejected.

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

STV is the voting system used in Scottish Council elections. Watch this video to understand how STV works.

Additional Member System (AMS)

AMS is used for elections to the Welsh National Assembly. Watch this video to see how AMS is used in Welsh elections.

Supplementary Vote (SV)

SV is used in London Mayoral elections. Watch this video to learn about how SV works.


The Electoral Reform Society has a great website with some really useful information on all the main voting systems, including some detailed ratings- go check them out!