US vs. UK Elections

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    Jan 27, 2013
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In the US, electing the President is very complicated, long and expensive affair. During the presidential election year, the state is narrowing the field of candidates. Party voters choose delegates and give them the authority to make its official nomination of candidate. The parties and their candidates face each other in the post-convention campaign. Candidates travel all over the country to make themselves and their opinions known. Television plays an important role in the media battle of presidential elections. Americans watch public debates which are televised all over the country. On election day television networks track two different tallies of the track of the results. “Popular vote” is a count of how many people across the country have supported the candidates. The other is the electoral – college vote. Each state has a number of votes in the college equal to its members in Congress. The popular vote is not counted nationally, but by state. The plurality system has its most dramatic effects in the electoral-college vote. If the candidate wins a state, he gets all the votes in the college. In such a system, the majority of voters do not want to “waste” their votes on smaller parties candidates. They almost never win whole states and votes in the college. However, the third-party candidates who win the small number of votes within states, sometimes can determine the result of the whole national contest.

UK Parliament has a maximum duration of five years, except in emergency situations. However it is often dissolved earlier. New elections are ordered by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister.

 The House of Lords consists of Lords Temporal and lords Spiritual. Lords of Spiritual are the Archbishops of York and Canterbury and 24 senior bishops of the Church of England. Lords Temporal are 92 peers and peeresses with hereditary titles and about 577 life peers and peeresses. The members of the House of Lords are appointed by political parties and an independent Appointment Commission and by the Lords of Appeal.

The House of Commons has 646 members. They are chosen from all parts of the UK and they represent citizens in Parliament. They are elected by voters (from age 18). Voting is not compulsory in Britain.

The two big parties (Labour and Conservative) have a greater chance of achieving power and British electoral system is unfair to smaller parties.

Each elector casts one vote and the candidate who wins the most votes in a constituency is elected MP for the area. This system is the “simple majority” or the “first past the post” system. The party which wins most seats in the House of Commons usually forms the new government. The party must have more than 33 per cent of the popular vote before winning a large number of seats. It must also approach 40 percent in order to form a government with an overall majority.

Minority parties, which do not reach the percentage above and whose support is scattered, do not gain many seats in Commons. This system is undemocratic towards them because election success often depends on whether support is concentrated in geographical areas. This system suits two major parties, but it does not reflect the popular vote.

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