Electoral Systems

There is an on-going debate in Africa in general and Zambia in particular on what type of electoral system suits African contemporary political systems. In Zambia the debate is on wheter to adopt the majoritarian system (50%+1) in the current constitution making process or to remain with the current system which is the First Past The Post electoral system. The aim of this essay is to discuss the features of the two types of electoral system and point out of the two, which best suits the contemporary political system of Zambia. It will begin which describing the two electoral systems and then move on to the main aim, thereafter a conclusion will follow.
A first-past-the-post (abbreviated FPTP or FPP) election is one that is won by the candidate receiving more votes than any other(s). It is a common, but not universal, feature of electoral systems. Plurality systems simply award a seat to the individual candidate who receives the most votes in an election. The candidate need not get a majority (50%+) of the vote to win; so long as he has a larger number of votes than all other candidates, he is declared the winner. Plurality systems normally depend on single-member constituencies, and allow voters to indicate only one vote on their ballot (by pulling a single lever, punching a hole in the ballot, making an X, etc.) Plurality electoral systems also tend to encourage the growth of relatively stable political systems dominated by two major parties (a phenomenon known as “Duverger’s Law”). Such an electoral system, though, clearly does not represent the interests of all (or even most) voters. In fact, since a candidate need have only a plurality of votes to be elected, most voters may actually have voted against the winner (although their votes are split among several candidates) (Reilly, 2002).
First Past The Post is defended primarily on the grounds of simplicity and its tendency to produce winners who are representatives beholden to defined geographic areas. The...