First Past the Post System | Definition, Pros & Cons

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First Past The Post System of Voting | Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages

First past the post system is also referred to as plurality system or simple majority system. In this system of voting, the candidate that scored the highest number of votes is deemed elected. It is based on single-member constituency.

First Past The Post System of Voting
First Past The Post System of Voting

A candidate has to obtain a single majority (plurality) of votes to be elected. He need not have to win an absolute majority of all the votes cast in the election. For example, there are four candidates with the following scores from 180,000 voters.

Candidates Vote Counts Result
A 70,000 Winner
B 55,000 —–
C 30,000 —–
D 15,000 —–
E 10,000 —–
Total Vote Counts 180,000  

  Candidate A is declared winner over other contenders because he has the plurality of votes.

Advantages of Plurality System

The advantages of plurality system (first past the post system) of voting are itemized below.

  1. Simple voting – The simple voting procedure enables a voter to vote directly for or against a particular candidate or party or policy.
  2. The procedure of voting – This procedure is so simple that it appeals to both the literate and the illiterate electorates.
  3. It produced a winner – The system produce a winner after the first ballot.
  4. It is economical – It saves money, time and energy. It also eliminates the need for a runoff election.
  5. Political stability – It encourages political stability through the elimination of smaller political parties.
  6. It encourages the strengthening of party organization – This is because, it emphasizes competition among political parties rather than candidates.
  7. The use of few parties – It prevents the existence of many parties and removed the tendency for a coalition government.

Disadvantages of Plurality / Simple Majority System

The disadvantages of plurality system (first past the post system) of voting are itemized below.

  1. Rigging – There is the possibility of rigging the election in this system.
  2. Inefficient and Unpopular Politicians – They may win the elections, hiding under the popularity of the party.
  3. The system does not produce result that reflects the wishes of the majority.
  4. Unpopular Government – the system may enthrone a government that is not popular.
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