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Electoral systems are the methods a country uses to select its officials They are rarely drastically altered but are constantly changed to reflect shifting values The reason for this is that electoral systems are very reflective of the entrenched cultural political ideals of a country The system being used by a country reflects the values most held by the populace and their leaders By enhancing minority representation increasing stability or encouraging debate the structure of elections affects the governmental style that results The differing results of single-member plurality commonly referred to as first past the post and proportional representation highlight the potential of an electoral system to affect the structure of government In a first past the post system the candidate in a constituency with the largest number of votes wins the constituency If there were three members running and they received 36 32 and 30 of the vote respectively even though two-thirds of voters voted against candidate A heshe wins the seat This tends to result in an exaggeration of the public will In 1951 the British Conservative party won 325 seats with a 480 share of the total vote The labour party had a slightly higher share of 488 but only won 291 seats in Westminster In this system minority parties must pay great attention to geographic concentrations of support Parties with widely dispersed support will fare worse then parties with concentrated pockets of support This was shown in Britain with the 1997 elections when the Liberal party secured 46 seats with only 16 of the popular vote In a proportional representation system the number of seats a party receives is directly related to the number of votes they receive It can either be done by district with a system of regional party lists or nationally If a party gets 20 of the vote they get 20 of the seats In Germany a party must receive over 5 of
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