Wednesday, 4 May 2016

2016 Assembly Election - STV vs FPTP and What Party Should you Vote For?

2016 Assembly Election - STV vs FPTP and What Party Should you Vote For?

Tomorrow May 5th and it is election time for the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly is Northern Ireland's dissolved legislature and it is elected through Single Transferable Vote (STV) under Proportional Representation (PR), unlike the general election for the UK parliament which employs First Past The Post (FPTP).

Picture: Stormont - The NI Assembly

Differences Between STV & FPTP

First Past The Post
  • Used for the UK General Election
  • Simple
  • Constituencies elect a single MP
  • Voters can only select one candidate and the candidate with the highest number votes then is elected.
  • Government is formed from a plurality rathern than a majority and thus government is argued to not be an accurate or fair representation of the electorate's views

FPTP is used for the UK general election as the MPs in the UK parliament deals with issues that affect the whole of the UK and international matters known as Excepted Matters or Reserved Matters. It is argued that FPTP is more suited as policies and  laws would be difficult to implement  if more interests were represented. It would be difficult to progress and gridlock or government inertia could be the result: “Too many cooks spoil the broth” is what is argued.

Single Transferable Vote
  • Form of proportional representation which aims to represent all segments in an electorate.
  • A team of candidates are elected - Northern Ireland 6 per constituency, 108 in total.
  • Voters rank list of candidates in the order that they prefer.
  • To be elected they must match a quota which is determined by the number of positions to be filled.
  • If your prefered candidate has no hope of being elected, the vote is then transferred to your second preference.
  • Arguably more fair as no votes are wasted and a wide range of candidates are elected to represent the different viewpoints in a consistency.

STV is used for local assembly elections which deal with issues on a local or city level. MLAs do not make laws. STV is suited to the assembly elections because they are dealing with parochial and community matters and therefore it is good to have different viewpoints represented: “Many hands make light work” is what is argued at local level.

Who Should I Vote for?

People vote for the candidate or party that they believe represents their views best. Due to employing STV there is no need to vote tactically for the assembly elections. An example of tactical voting may be in East Belfast during the 2015 general election: constituents tended to vote for either Naomi Long (Alliance) or Gavin Robinson (DUP) to stop the other being elected.
Naomi Long and Gavin Robinson

In Northern Ireland people typically vote based on whether they are Catholic or Protestant for example Catholics tend to vote for either Sinn Fein or SDLP whilst Protestants tend to vote for either DUP or UUP. People who consider themselves to be non-partisan in the religious divide tend to vote for Alliance.

Realistically in the near future there is not going to be a change in whether Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK or not and therefore voting along purely religious and sectarian lines makes little sense. What you might find is that the party that you choose to elect policies may not accurately represent your political voice and therefore you may end up being misrepresented.

It may be a good idea to do these two tests to see which party you sit best with before you vote tomorrow. They are blindfolded tests and the policies you choose then match with the party that represents your opinion best.  My mum’s boyfriend did a similar test for the 2015 general election, is from a nationalists background would normally vote Sinn Fein (from what I can recall) but the result indicated due to policies he should vote DUP - which was hilarious but showed how misrepresented you could be if you vote purely on religious/sectarian lines.

And concluded that I should vote for NI conservatives 100%. Which wasn’t that big of a surprise to me as I am a big Maggie Thatcher fan.

However, the second one which is more complex -!/
It didn't include NI Conservatives but instead indicated that I should vote Traditionalist Unionist Voice (TUV)which I would have never considered voting for previously, as Jim Allister appears to me as very staunchly unionist and I am only a unionist due to economic reasons. However, what was found was I agreed with more of the TUV's policies due to being economically right winged.
Jim Allister

So why don’t you give it a shot and see what your result is?
And No cheating!

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