EXCERPT | Election Systems as a Part of Political System

EXCERPT | Election Systems as a Part of Political System

By Fuad Afgan Khalil-Zadeh
Ph.D. candidate of the Baku State University

EXCERPT | Election Systems as a Part of Political System

Image Attribute: A voter casting her ballot at a polling station in Baku during presidential elections in Azerbaijan, 9 October 2013. / Source: OSCE

The election system is primarily, but not exclusively about the integration of special interest groups into the political system and effective representation of minority. The election is one of the key elements of a democratic state. The existence of electoral system notifies the democracy in the country. Elections build trust between state and citizens. Therefore, it is an integral and necessary part of democracy.

Five varieties of plurality/majority systems can be identified: First Past The Post (FPTP), Block Vote (BV), Party Block Vote (PBV), Alternative Vote (AV), and the Two-Round System (TRS).

The First Past the Post system is the simplest form of plurality/ majority system, using single member districts and candidate-centered voting. The voter is presented with the names of the nominated candidates and votes by choosing one, and only one, of them. The winning candidate is simply the person who wins most votes; in theory, he or she could be elected with two votes, if every other candidate only secured a single vote.

The Block Vote is simply the use of plurality voting in multimember districts. Voters have as many votes as there are seats to be filled in their district, and are usually free to vote for individual candidates regardless of party affiliation. In most BV systems they may use as many, or as few, of their votes as they wish.

Party Block Vote, unlike FPTP, there are multi-member districts. Voters have a single vote and choose between party lists of candidates rather than between individuals. The party which wins most votes takes all the seats in the district, and its entire list of candidates is duly elected. As in FPTP, there is no requirement for the winner to have an absolute majority of the votes. As of 2004, PBV was used as the only system or the major component of the system in four countries— Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, and Singapore.

Elections under Alternative Vote are usually held in single-member districts, like FPTP elections. However, AV gives voters considerably more options than FPTP when marking their ballot paper. Rather than simply indicating their favored candidate, under AV electors rank the candidates in the order of their choice, by marking a ‘1’ for their favorite, ‘2’ for their second choice, ‘3’ for their third choice and so on. The system thus enables voters to express their preferences between candidates rather than simply their first choice. For this reason, it is often known as ‘preferential voting’ in the countries which use

Party Block Vote - A plurality/majority system using multi-member districts in which voters cast a single party centered vote for a party of choice, and do not choose between candidates. The party with most votes will win every seat in the electoral district. The Systems and their Consequences it (The Borda Count, STV and the Supplementary Vote are also preferential systems).

The central feature of the Two-Round System is as the name suggests: it is no tone election but takes place in two rounds, often a week or a fortnight apart. The first round is conducted in the same way as a single-round plurality/majority election. In the most common form of TRS, this is conducted using FPTP. It is, however, also possible to conduct TRS in multi-member districts using Block Vote (as in Kiribati) or Party Block Vote (as in Mali). A candidate or party that receives a specified proportion of the vote is elected outright, with no need for a second ballot. This proportion is normally an absolute majority of valid votes cast, although several countries use a different figure when using TRS to elect a president (see paragraph 179). If no candidate or party receives an absolute majority, then the second round of voting is held and the winner of this round is declared elected.

Each election system has its own selection methods.

These methods differ from each other for the conditions of the country in which they are applied or according to the views of its creator. There is a strong relationship between the electoral system and election methods. In practice, election methods vary as stated by electoral systems. Basically different points of the various methods available in the majority system. In a proportional representation system, only the list method is applied.

Electoral systems affect the number of political organizations and parties in the country. The ruling party efforts to create an electoral system that can put more representatives in the parliament in the future, the opposition wants to diminish the number of representatives of the ruling party in government, the independents and small parties try to carry their representatives in parliament.

Nowadays, the election system comprises two main principles: justice and benefits. The presence of both principles in the electoral system is the ideal situation. To ensure that idea is difficult, but not impossible. However, it depends on the preferred selection system. So that, there are main systems applied in the elections: majority system, proportional representation system, and mixed or hybrid system. While the majority system brings benefits policy to the forefront, proportional representation system adopts the principle of justice. In a mixed system, sometimes it is observed the weight of the majority system, sometimes the emphasis put on the proportional representation system.

Advantages and disadvantages of the majority system are the following:

The most significant advantages of the majority system are its simplicity. Implementation, counting of votes, and determination of winner do not take much time;

The simplicity of the system makes increase participation level in the election. The reason for that is voters know how it is assessed the votes they use. And it helps to build confidence in the results of the election, the number of canceled votes are reduced to a minimum;

Majority system leads to a reduction of the number of parties in the country, tends to the two-party system. It is seen in countries where the application of one method turn two - party system, as an example of the U.S. and U.K. party system, can be displayed;

The two-party system would bring a political order about the alleged benefits, especially focused on the concept of political stability. The parliament dominated by two main parties, the ruling and opposition parties, is regulated in more easily. Furthermore, the compliance in the government that can be established without the need for coalition are more possible and attainable. The emergence of well-balanced decisions in the government increases public confidence and provides stability in the country.

However, it should be noted that the link between electoral systems and the number of parties is not only about accountability, but also political legislative framework. In other words, it is claimed that the electoral system - that is, the way in which the election is contested and votes are translated into seats - strongly influences the number and types of parties that develop.

Analysis of voting systems into the study of electoral systems shows that the major consequence of a single member district plurality voting system is a very strong tendency for two political parties to dominate the political system, or what is called a “two-party duopoly”. In this kind of political system it is extremely difficult for third parties to play a sustained, important role.

Cite this Article: 

Fuad Afgan KZ (2016) Political Elections as an Element of Democracy. J Pol Sci Pub Aff 4:220. doi:10.4172/2332-0761.1000220

This excerpt is taken from an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. 
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