FPTP Proportional Representation and Proportional Representation YouTube Lecture Handouts

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First Past the Post and Proportional Representation: Graphics to Comprehend - Political Science

First Past the Post and Proportional Representation

  • In a first-past-the-post (FPTP or FPP; sometimes formally called single-member plurality voting or SMP) electoral system, voters cast their vote for a candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins (irrespective of vote share) .
  • This system is used in India in direct elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. While FPTP is relatively simple, it does not always allow for a truly representative mandate, as the candidate could win despite securing less than half the votes in a contest. In 2014, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party won 336 seats with only 38.5 % of the popular vote
  • The Indian constitution adopts the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system of elections, otherwise known as simple majority where a candidate with the most number of votes from a constituency wins the seat. The recent elections saw the Bharatiya Janata Party receive a vote share of 37.4 % , which translated to 56 % of the total seats.
  • Some believe that this system is undemocratic and unrepresentative of diverse identities. The critics of the FPTP system have called for reexamining this constitutional choice and have argued for adopting the system of proportional representation.
  • So why did the constitution framers choose FPTP? Are those historical reasons still relevant in today՚s India?
  • Article 81 of the constitution stipulates for FPTP. The constituent assembly took up this provision (draft Article 67) for discussion on January 4,1949.
  • Kazi Syed Karimuddin offered the strongest critique of FPTP and made a case for adopting proportional representation. He sought to move an amendment to substitute FPTP with “system of proportional representation with multi-member constituencies by means of cumulative vote.” Karimuddin believed that proportional representation is ‘profoundly democratic’ as it secures representation of all voices of the society. Further, K. T. Shah supported proportional representation through single transferable vote. He said that this system is a ‘greater reflection of popular will’ and will ensure a government, which has diverse political voices.
  • Proportional representation characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideological partitioning of the electorate.
  • Under the party-list system, the elector votes not for a single candidate but for a list of candidates. A different party generally submits each list, though an individual can put forward his own list.
  • Single transferable vote - used in national elections in Ireland and Malta, in Australian Senate elections, and in local and European Parliament elections in Northern Ireland. Under STV, voters rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference. In the 1860s, Henry Richmond Droop developed a quota (the so-called Droop quota) to determine the number of votes a candidate needed to capture to win election under STV.
  • Mixed-member proportional representation goes by a variety of other names, including “the additional member system,” “compensatory PR,” the “two vote system,” and “the German system.” It is an attempt to combine a single-member district system with a proportional voting system. Half of the members of the legislature are elected in single-member district plurality contests. The other half are elected by a party list vote and added on to the district members so that each party has its appropriate share of seats in the legislature.

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