To what extent does the Single Transferable Vote (STV) encourage greater participation and representation than First Past The Post (FPTP)? 15 marks The Single Transferable Vote (STV) may encourage greater representation than First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) as it produces a proportional result but it is a more complicated system so it may actually reduce participation. Local council elections in Scotland changed from being run under FTPT to STV in 2003. STV encourages greater representation as it produces a proportional result. As STV is a pure form of proportional representation (% of votes = % of seats) the composition of the assembly will closely reflect the voting preferences of the electorate. For example, all across Scotland in 2007, Scottish Green Party candidates and Independents were elected in local council elections. Whereas, FPTP produces a disproportionate result. The percentage of seats won is not in proportion to the percentage of votes cast for a party. For example, in Midlothian in 2003 Labour won 15 of the 18 seats with just 43.3% of the votes while the SNP and Conservatives won no seats despite taking 24.4% and 11.0% of the votes respectively. This shows STV represents the views of the people better due to its proportionality unlike FPTP which exaggerates the lead of the largest party and punishes smaller parties. STV may encourage greater participation because voters have more candidates to choose from. Constituencies are bigger so parties are allowed to field as many candidates as there are seats. This means parties may put forward candidates with differing views and from more diverse backgrounds. For example, the Liberal Democrats put forward 2 candidates for Ward 8 – Mid Formartine – in Aberdeenshire in 2007. Whereas, with FPTP voters are faced with little choice when it comes to candidates. As there is only one winner local parties tend to select the person most likely to win the constituency. This is often a white, middle-aged, middle-class man. This shows more people are likely to participate in voting in an STV election because there is a greater choice of candidate to fully represent their views unlike the limited choice under FPTP. It could be argued FPTP is more representative due to usually one single party taking control of the local council. If one party is in overall charge it is easier to get policies passed which are in line with the wishes of the electorate. For example, in 2003 Labour controlled 13 local authorities. In comparison, STV leads to coalitions. Parties must join forces in coalitions or partnerships with other parties to get their policies through. The result being compromise policies no-one voted for. For example, the only mainland councils with one party or group in control are Glasgow and North Lanarkshire. This shows FTPT offers better representation through decisive government in single party controlled authorities compared to coalitions no-one voted for under STV. FPTP is a simple voting system which encourages greater participation. FPTP is a familiar system and easy. Fewer ballot papers are spoiled. For example, voters simply put a ‘X’ next to the candidate of their choice. Whereas, STV is a more complicated electoral system. Voters have to list candidates in order of preference. It increases the number of incorrect ballot papers. For example, in 2003 there were only 14,579 rejected ballot papers under FPTP but 38,351 were rejected in 2007 under STV. This shows more people’s votes are counted under FPTP because fewer ballot papers are spoiled compared to the higher number of votes not counted under STV because it is more complicated to fill out the ballot paper. STV definitely encourages greater representation and participation than FPTP. While FPTP allows for decisive government as a result of single party control, this does not really reflect the wishes of the people. Under FPTP the lead of the largest party is exaggerated and smaller parties lose out. At least with STV more votes count and the people are represented by the candidates and parties they voted for. This real choice also encourages participation.