Election 2010: the aftermath

AnnieM, May 12, 2010

It’s been a tense few weeks in the lead up to May 6th. For five days after the election, the nation waited with baited breath to hear about the outcome of talks between the Conservative leader, David Cameron and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg. Finally the wait was over and at 7.30pm yesterday, it was announced that the two parties would form a coalition. The news came just after a formal resignation tended by Gordon Brown who announced he would step down as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour party. Until the Labour party elect a new leader, Harriet Harman will be acting Labour leader.

With so many unfamiliar phrases and buzz words (many of which haven’t been used to describe contemporary politics for decades) its becoming harder to keep abreast of all the latest Whitehall developments.  Considerate as ever, we at Jobsgopublic have compiled our own guide to post-election buzz words and phrases which will hopefully make it a bit easier to navigate your way around news sites focusing on the election and its aftermath.

Alliance

An agreement reached between two or more political parties in order to work towards a policy or goal. For instance, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could form an alliance over the issue of electoral reform.

Alternative Voting system (AV)

The most talked about option, this would be a produce some different results from our existing system but is not a form of proportional representation.

Voters select their preferred candidates in rank order. Our current system (see below) only allows us to cast one vote. If a candidate is selected as ‘first choice’ by over 50% of voters (in other words, a candidate receives the majority and therefore more than the other candidates in total) they are then elected. However, if no candidate receives an overall majority, the candidate with the most second choice preferences are counted. If there is no overall majority of second-choice candidates, then the third choice candidate is counted and so on.

Coalition

Two or more parties form a government together. The government would then be made up of a mixed cabinet from the two parties.

First Past the Post (FPTP)

This is our current voting system where we - the electorate - are allowed only one vote for our preferred candidate (MP). The party with the most MPs elected then forms the next government.

Hung parliament

When no party has received more seats than the other parties collectively it is known as a hung parliament. In other words, no party has received an overall majority.

Proportional Representation (PR)

Parliamentary seats are allocated in proportion to the amount of votes cast. Our FPTP system is not proportionally represented, for example. In this election, Liberal Democrats  gained 57 seats (57 MPs were elected) , received 23% of the vote but in terms of parliamentary seats only gained 9% of the available seats. There are several types of proportional representation.

Rainbow coalition

A coalition of multiple parties creating a ‘rainbow’ effect from the colour associated with each party.

Referendum

A direct vote for the electorate on a particular issue.

Single transferrable vote

For this system to work, parliamentary constituencies (or areas) would be altered to return multiple candidates rather than just one. It is similar to the alternative system, in that voters rank candidates in order of preference.

A quota is set by a formula. Any candidate who reaches or exceeds the quota is declared elected. If a candidate has more votes than the quota, that candidate's surplus votes are transferred to other candidates.  Votes that would have gone to the winner instead go to the next preference listed on their ballot. If no one new meets the quota, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and that candidate's votes are transferred. This process repeats until either a winner is found for every seat or there are as many seats as remaining candidates.

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