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What electoral system do they use in Northern Ireland?

Single transferable vote (STV)


How does a system like STV influence voting?

- More proportional so the result is more fair and represents democracy more accurately.

- Multi member constituencies mean less wasted votes and less safe seats. This increases a representative's accountability.


What are referendums?

- A general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision.


Name some arguments that referendums do not promote democracy.

- On June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. This was a massive decision that will effect the UK in many ways.

- It can be argued that referendums hinder democracy. For example, in the 2016 EU election, 62% of voters in Scotland voted to remain, however the rest of the UK voted to leave. This raised the prospect of Scotland being taken out of the EU against their will. (tyranny of the majority)

- Governments typically only call referendums because they think they will get the result that they desire. For example in the 1979 Scottish devolution referendum, Westminster made it particularly difficult for the electorate to achieve devolution as they used a 40% quorum.

- Voters may be influenced by false information (Brexit, £350 million EU contribution per week bus)


Name some arguments that referendums do promote democracy.

- Referendums can help settle issues that have been controversial. Alex Salmond argued, after the Scottish referendum, that the issue of independence been settled 'for a generation'.

- Referendums act as a check on governments and ensure that key changes only take place with popular support. Otherwise decisions are easily taken by ministers, civil servants and powerful interest groups (which would hinder democracy as the electorate don't get a say on these key decisions)

- In the 2016 EU referendum, the turnout was over 72%. Compared to the 2017 general election turnout of over 68%.

- They demonstrate the pure will of the people


Additional Member System (AMS) - 2011 Scottish Assembly example

- In this system, the vote percentage is more proportional to the amount of seats a party wins than FPTP.
- The SNP got 53 seats with a vote share of 45.4%


Example of a low turnout referendum

- In the 2011 AV referendum, the turnout was only 42%.


Supplementary Vote (SV)

- Adv: Its a relatively simple system to understand
- Adv: All MP's would have the support if a majority of their voters
- Dis: Voters may need to vote tactically if they don't want a wasted vote
- Dis: Discriminates against smaller parties as only two parties can make the final cut


Single Transferable Vote (STV) proportional example

- In the Northern Ireland Assembly 2017 election, the DUP got 28 seats with 28% of the vote share.


Additional Member System (AMS)

- Adv: It is proportional
- Adv: It gives voters a wider choice
- Dis: It can be complicated
- Dis: Smaller parties are less well represented than under a fully proportional system