Electoral Systems used Today

There are six different types of electoral systems used in today’s democracies. They are split into two broad categories; majoritarian and proportional systems.

Majoritarian Systems
First Past the Post (Single Member Plurality)
Second Ballot
Alternative Vote/Supplementary Vote

Proportional Systems
Alternative Member System
Proportional representation Single transferable Vote
Party List

First Past the Post (FPTP) – Majoritarian
This system is used in the United Kingdom, Canada, USA and India.

The country is split into constituencies of equal sizes. Each constituency has one representative in the assembly creating a strong link between the area and it’s representative. Strong, effective, stable single-party government are normally formed. Small extremist parties rarely win seats under this system. To get elected a candidate just needs to get the majority of the votes, this leads to a lot of wasted votes as the person elected might only get 26% of the vote.

Second Ballot – Majoritarian
This is mainly used in France and the Ukraine.

There are single member constituencies with single-choice voting. After the first ballot if no candidate has an overall majority, a second run-off ballot is held between the two leading candidates. Candidates are forced to have a broad appeal to get elected.

Alternative Vote (AV); Supplementary Vote (SV) – Majoritarian
Used in Australia (AV) and in the United Kingdom (London Mayor (SV)).

There are single member constituencies and electors use preferential voting. . The winning candidate must have 50% of the vote. This system is fairer than the second ballot as it stops candidates from forming deals.

Additional Member System (AMS) – Proportional
Used in Germany, Italy, Russia, New Zealand, Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

A percentage of the seats are filled by the FPTP system. The rest of the seats are filled by a party list system. This allows a constituency to have its own representative from one party and vote for a another party to govern.

Proportional Representation: Single Transferable Vote (PRSTV) – Proportional
Used in the Republic of Ireland and in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

There are multi-member constituencies (up to five seats) in which parties can field as many candidates as there is seats. Candidates are elected when they reach a quota. Having several representatives means constituents can choose who to take there grievances to.

Party List System – Proportional
Used in Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and various other European States.

The entire country is treated as one constituency. The voters vote for the party of their liking. The party list system is the most proportional system used as if a party gets 45% of the votes it gets 45% of the seats.

United Nations, Security Council Reform: Plan A or Plan B??

The United Nations summit in New York, this September, faces a difficult choice A or B?

In his recent report, In Larger Freedom, Kofi Annan, secretary-General of the UN outlined two proposals for reform of the Security Council.

Model A provides for six new permanent seats, with no veto being created, and three new two-year term non-permanent seats, divided among the major regional areas.

Under Model A Europe will get another permanent seat, but who will get it? It will be hotly contested between Germany, Italy and Spain. Europe will also get 2 non-renewable 2 year seats. These will pass among the European Members of the UN.

Under Model A Africa will get 2 new permanent seats, but who will get these? Nigeria and South Africa and hotly tipped for them but there could be other challengers. Africa will also get 4 non- renewable 2 year seats.

Asian-Pacific Region will also get 2 new permanent seats and there will be plenty of competition between Australia, Japan, India, Pakistan and others for them. The Asian-Pacific region will get 4 non-renewable 2 year seats.

The Americas will get 1 new permanent seat which will be contested by Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and other countries. The Americas will also get 4 non-renewable 2 year seats.

For this model Germany, Japan, Brazil and India have pledged to vote for each other in getting the new permament seats on the council.

Model B provides for no new permanent seats but creates a new category of eight four-year renewable-term seats and one new two-year non-permanent (and non-renewable) seat, divided among the major regional areas.

Under Model B Europe will get 2 new renewable 4 year seats and 1 non-renewable 2 year seat.

Africa will get 2 renewable 4 year seats and 4 non-renewable seats.

The Asian-Pacific Region will get 2 renewable 4 seats year and 3 non-renewable 2 year seats.

The Americas will get 2 renewable 4 year seats and 3 non-renewable 2 year seats.

Under both models each region; Africa, Americas, Asian-Pacific and Europe will each have 6 seats representing their views on the Security Council. Of course their is no change recommended in the number of veto holding members.

Security Council reform is not the only thing outlined in the report. Change is advocated in most of the organs of the UN from the General Assembly to the Trusteeship Council, which is hoped to be implemented as a Human Rights Council.

For more inforamtion on the UN please visit http://www.un.org

What more should be done to protect the environment?

For the environment of this planet to be protected international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol should be honoured by the major polluters. Developing countries should be given the technology to develop industry to the level of the developed world without producing as much pollution.

In general every country should develop effective and cheap methods of recycling. The price of recycling some products is more expensive and, therefore, less appealing to producers/industry. This is a major obstacle that must be overcome for us to be able to pass on to future generations a clean, safe environment.

Protecting the environment is not something nation states alone can do. International organistations from the EU to the UN have a role in encouraging states to cooperate in developing environmental policies that will not only enhance their region but the entire world.

Is China a threat, if so how and who does China threaten?

I believe China is not a threat in today’s world. I think that China could become a stabliser in world politics by forcing the United States to change for a malign hegemon back to a benign hegemon. The ‘preventive war’ in Iraq could have been avoided if the US was forced to stand down by another great power. The US has held a dominant position in world politics for too long, 60 years this year!!

The US holds a veto in the UN, it has 17% of the votes on the board of the IMF giving it an effective veto over its decisions. This has gone too long. The US needs a challenge. Only China can give the US this challenge.

The EU might be able to challenge the US in the future, but would have to sort out its Common Foreign and Security Policy first. China is only viewed as a threat by some Americans who want the US to hold onto its dominant position in the world and stop other countries from reaching the same level as them.

China is becoming more accepted in today’s world, is this a threat? No, its a new possibility for European and American trade and investment. I do not believe China is a threat to anyone bar the USA’s dominant position in world politics