Electoral systems are the methods a country uses to select its officials. They are rarely drastically altered but are constantly changed to reflect shifting values. The reason for this is that electoral systems are very reflective of the entrenched cultural political ideals of a country. The system being used by a country reflects the values most held by the populace and their leaders. By enhancing minority representation, increasing stability, or encouraging debate the structure of elections affects the governmental style that results.
The differing results of single-member plurality (commonly referred to as "first past the post") and proportional representation highlight the potential of an electoral system to affect the structure of government.
In a first past the post system the candidate in a constituency with the largest number of votes wins the constituency. If there were three members running and they received 36%, 32% and 30% of the vote respectively, even though two-thirds of voters voted against candidate A, he/she wins the seat.
This tends to result in an exaggeration of the public will. In 1951 the British Conservative party won 325 seats with a 48.0% share of the total vote . The labour party had a slightly higher share of 48.8% but only won 291 seats in Westminster . In this system minority parties must pay great attention to geographic concentrations of support. Parties with widely dispersed support will fare worse then parties with concentrated pockets of support. This was shown in Britain with the 1997 elections when the Liberal party secured 46 seats with only 16% of the popular vote .
In a proportional representation system the number of seats a party receives is directly related to the number of votes they receive. It can either be done by district, with a system of regional party lists, or...