First-past-the-post system

What is FPTP system?

  • The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system is also known as the simple majority system. In this voting method, the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency is declared the winner. This system is used in India in direct elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.

Problems with FPTP:

  1. While FPTP is relatively simple, it does not always allow for a truly representative mandate, as the candidate could win despite securing less than half the votes in a contest. Also, smaller parties representing specific groups have a lower chance of being elected in FPTP.
  2. Under the existing system, representatives may be elected by a minority of votes, but their party grabs the majority of seats in the legislature.
  3. Also the existing system also encourages parties to target vote-banks, enter divisive electoral strategies and field tainted candidates.

How Proportional Representation (PR) is better than FPTP?

  1. PR system will allow parties to have their presence in the legislatures according to their vote share instead of being wiped out completely even after getting a sizeable vote share.
  2. PR systems would allow for representation of minorities and smaller parties in the legislatures which are not represented adequately now.
  3. PR would also bring the nation closer and will complete the total integration of India. It will put an end to extreme regionalism and divisive caste and communal politics.
  4. PR would also put a stop to the exaggeration of regional differences as it allows all of the parties with significant levels of support to gain seats across the country.
  5. It would also put a stop to the inflated seat count of the Blocs controlled by smaller parties who generally receive even less than 10% the total votes polled across India, but a much greater percentage of the seats and a disproportionate bargaining power at the Centre.

Problems with PR system:

  1. PR system carries the threat of further dividing society on caste, religious and other lines. When parties are promised seats in proportion to their votes, politicians will find innovative ways means of forming newer parties.
  2. It would make our MPs and MLAs even less responsive to people’s needs.
  3. PR would place India’s democracy squarely in the hands of party bosses. When candidates win by being on the party’s list, they must woo their bosses and represent their parties, not the people. This can only intensify partisanship in India’s Parliament and state legislatures.
  4. PR would revive India’s problem with unstable governments. When parties are guaranteed representation on the basis of percentage of votes received, they would have little interest in forming or sustaining coalitions. Their ideological or other vote-bank would be present even if a government falls.
  5. The constant politicking caused by PR would make it impossible for governments to take bold or transformative decisions. Corruption would grow, for people wouldn’t be able to oust a dishonest representative individually.
  6. PR is a recipe for instability as exemplified by the current political deadlock in Nepal, which has adopted the PR system.


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