Over the next several periods we will… • Describe the way the Additional Member System is used for Scottish Parliament Elections • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of the Additional Member System
Success Criteria • I will be able to identifythe way AMS works to elect MSPs and to create a Scottish Government • I will be able to describe the overall purpose of AMS • I will be able to explain in detail the advantages and disadvantages of the Additional Member System
PR Voting Systems –The Additional Member System The Additional Member System (AMS) is used for elections to the Scottish Parliament. It is a form of proportional representation. AMS has been used for all 5 Scottish Parliament election held so far.
The Additional Member System (AMS) is used to elect Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). The system is a mixture of FPTP and the Party List systemwhere voters have two votes – one for a constituency MSP and a second vote for a party on a regional list. In the constituency vote the person with the most votes wins. For the Scottish Parliament elections the country is divided into 73 constituencies. In 2016, the person with most votes in the Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley constituency was Willie Coffey.
As AMS uses FPTP for the constituency vote, the second vote uses the proportional PARTY LIST system. On this ballot, voters select a political party. For this vote, Scotland is divided into eight regions each returning a further seven regional MSPs. The Party List votes are counted in each region and the 7 seats available are allocated to parties based on the proportion of votes they have received. This then makes the overall result more proportional. 1 Region = 7 MSPs 8 Regions overall = 56 Regional MSPs
Kilmarnock lies within the South Scotland region. It is currently represented by: • 3 SNP members • 2 Scottish Conservative members • 2 Scottish Labour members
TO SUMMARISE: • THERE ARE 129 MSPs ALTOGETHER • 73 MSPs represent CONSTITUENCIES • The other 56 MSPs represent REGIONS. • EACH VOTER receives TWO BALLOT PAPERS (TWO VOTES). • The Constituency vote is for an individual person, who will usually belong to a political party. (This is FPTP style ballot) • The second Regional Vote is for a POLITICAL PARTY (literally it is a Party List). • The votes on the second ballot are counted and then seats are allocated to parties based on the proportion of votes received. • Overall, this two vote system makes AMS a proportional representation electoral system.
Strengths of AMS: • AMS produces a (roughly) proportional result If an electoral system is proportional it means that the % of votes cast = % seats of gained. For example, in the 2016 SP election, the Scottish Greens received 6.6%of all regional votes and gained 7.1%of the seats available (6 seats) - this is highly proportional. Such results mean that the people of Scotland are accurately and fairly represented within the Scottish Parliament. AMS ensures that a majority of voters have a chance of gaining representation which reflects their own values which, in turn, should make the Parliament more representative body. Further example: 2011 SP election - Liberal Democrats received 5% of regional votes and gained 3 regional seats.
Strengths of AMS: • Smaller Parties often represented/rewarded As AMS provides a roughly proportional result, smaller political parties have a greater chance of gaining seats in the Scottish Parliament. For example, in 2016 the Scottish Green Party gained 6 seatswhilst in the Liberal Democrats have consistently had between 5 and 17 MSPs since the first election in 1999. This is an advantage of AMS as it means that many different political opinions are heard in Parliament and that the voices of smaller groups of Scottish citizens are represented at the national level. It can also help ensure that the Scottish Government is held to account as smaller parties will represent the views of the minority.
Strengths of AMS: • AMS often produces coalition or minority governments Due to the fact that many seats are awarded on a proportional basis, AMS frequently produces coalition or minority governments as it is difficult for any single party to gain more than 65 seats. The current SNP government is a minority administration whilst the first two elections produced coalitions between Labour and the Liberal Democrats (nicknamed “Lib-Lab”). Coalitions and Minority governments allow for fair representation as they automatically require compromise and cooperation between political parties and therefore voters’ views are far more likely to be reflected in the decisions made in Parliament.
Strengths of AMS: • Less Wasted Votes/Greater Representation • Due to the Party List system used for the second ballot, far less votes are “wasted” under AMS than if FPTP was used alone. • For example, in 2011 in the GLASGOW Region, 3 Labour, 2 SNP, 1 Conservative and 1 Green Party MSP were elected. Had FPTP been used on the second ballot, it is likely only Labour would have won seats. This would have meant the thousands of votes cast for the Conservatives and Green Party would have counted for nothing. • Therefore, AMS is far more representative of the voters and citizens have a far wider range of MSPs to approach with potential issues.
Weaknesses of AMS: • Confusing for Voters • Many people do not understand the two separate votes. Despite campaigns by the Electoral Commission and all Scottish political parties, many people still do not full understand the two ballot system. For example, in 2007 about 100,000 ballot papers were rejected as they were incorrectly completed. This means 100,000 people’s votes were not taken into consideration. • Many people find the outcome of the election confusing • As a result of AMS every person in Scotland is represented by 8 MSPs in total. This can often lead to confusion for constituents as there is no direct link between Regional MSPs and those who voted for them. Remember the 2nd ballot paper lists political parties – not individual candidate names. This has lead to many claims that Regional MSPs are “less useful” or “less important” as people are more likely to know who their constituency MSP is.
Weaknesses of AMS: • Creates Coalition/Minority Government Although there are many benefits in having a coalition or minority government there are also distinct disadvantages. In many cases coalition or minority governments struggle to push forward their legislative agenda (they struggle to pass the laws they want or promised too) as there is conflict and a lack of support both within and for these types of government. Minority governments in Scotland have also struggled to push legislation through parliament and maintain legislation as well. In March 2018, all four opposition parties banded together to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act which was originally put in place by the SNP. The SNP minority government were defeated by 62 votes to 60. Finally, voters never specifically vote for a coalition therefore it is often the case that when parties make agreements with each other this also angers party members and can cause issue within parties as well.
The Additional Member System Questions • Describe, using examples from recent elections, the way in which the Additional Member System (AMS) works in Scotland. • Give three strengths AMS. Provide at least two examples to improve your answer. • Give three weaknesses of AMS. Provide at least two examples to improve your answer. • Review the 2011 Scottish Election Results and the 2016 Scottish Election Results. In what ways did the use of AMS in both elections: • Represent the wishes of the people of Scotland • Not properly represent the wishes of the people of Scotland
Creating an Evaluate Essay Paragraph K – why this voting system does provides fair representation E – evaluate your point positively K –further knowledge on the system E – evaluate positively again.
K – AMS produces a proportional result… E – this provides fair representation because… K – A majority of voters will be represented in some way via AMS… E – this ensures effective representation as… K – AMS can be very confusing for voters… E – This limits how effective AMS is as… K – The overall result of Scottish elections can also be confusing for voters as… E – It can be argued this leads to poor representation because…