The High Quarterly

The Shape of Democracy 02/02/2017
 In light of the recent US election, Trump won sufficient delegates to grant him the position of US president, but popular vote reveals that Clinton won by a margin of over 2 million. This isn’t the first example of democratic systems failing to proportionately represent the number of raw votes – can this continue to happen?Trump’s Electoral College count superseded Hillary’s in a system that is based on electoral colleges.  In a simplified version, the electoral college chooses the president, and vice president, and the people vote for the electoral college, who are either Republican or Democrat, so when the electoral college assembled in December 19th,  they cast their for either Clinton or Trump. However, we already knew the outcome, as we know who the Electoral College is composed of. However, an issue arises because most states give either all-Republican or all-Democratic electoral votes so it ultimately disqualifies any weight carried by the opposing party, for example, Democratic votes in Republican strongholds like Texas and Alabama would not be counted. This, therefore, gave rise to the situation wherein Trump did not secure the popular vote, yet was still able to win. This is not the first time to happen; there have been 4 cases in history, including the infamous George Bush v. Al Gore election in 2000.However, the UK voting system is also not without flaws. In Britain, we utilise a system known as First Past the Post. When there is a General Election in the UK, the UK is divided up into constituencies and we all vote for the local MP. In Spalding, John Hayes (Con) won, as did other Conservatives in 330 other constituencies and therefore acquired the majority needed to win. This however means that votes for parties other than the party that one a particular constituency are ultimately useless. In 2015, this led to abnormal representations – for example SNP securing 4.7% of the raw vote yet ultimately securing 56 out of 58 in Scotland, and UKIP, while winning 12.6% of the raw vote, more than double what the SNP achieved, yet ultimately won only 1 seat. This therefore demonstrates issues with representation in the voting system.Is there a perfect democratic system? The answer is no, as all of their advantages and disadvantages. Some critics would argue that proportional representation is the fairest system, where votes directly correlate with the amount of seats a party has, but some argue that it wouldn’t properly address regional desires – for example, a Conservative could end up in an inner-city Labour stronghold. With more and more elections become closer and closer as political views become more diverse, we can only wonder how these systems will evolve in the future.

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