What is first past the post?

How elections are won, and the drawbacks to our electoral system. 

What is first past the post?

First-past-the-post (FPTP) is the electoral system used in UK general elections.  FPTP determines which candidate in a constituency is most favoured by the constituents (local residents). The defining characteristic of FPTP is that whichever candidate gets the most votes, they are elected as the representative, or Member of Parliament (MP), for that constituency.

How does it work?

In the UK General Election, there are multiple candidates competing to be elected as the MP of a constituency. Often, these candidates campaign in the local area to encourage residents to vote for them. 

The constituents will have one day (7 AM to 10 PM) to vote for 1 candidate which they believe best represents themselves and their political priorities. 

The candidate who receives the most votes wins the election. It doesn’t matter if the winning candidate gets an absolute majority (more than 50% of the votes) or not, they simply need to have more votes than any other candidate.

FPTP follows a ‘winner takes all’ approach. The candidate with the highest vote count wins the entire seat, even if their margin of victory is small. This is the same when deciding the political party forming the government. Whichever party has the most MPs sitting in Parliament, has the power and control to form a government for up to the next 5 years. 

How will FPTP impact the 2024 general election?

The downside to the FPTP system is that the winning constituency candidate may not represent the majority of the constituency and the winning political party may not represent the majority of the UK. This is because FPTP requires the winning candidate and party to only have more votes or seats in Parliament than the others. This may lead to dissatisfaction among voters.

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Harrison Ricketts

Harrison Ricketts

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