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First-past-the-post voting

The meaning of «first-past-the-post voting»

In a first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP or FPP; sometimes formally called single-member plurality voting or SMP; sometimes called choose-one voting for single-member districts, in contrast to ranked choice voting[1]), voters cast their vote for a candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins (even if the top candidate gets less than 50%, which can happen when there are more than two popular candidates). FPTP is a plurality voting method, and is primarily used in systems that use single-member electoral divisions. FPTP is used as the primary form of allocating seats for legislative elections in about a third of the world's countries, mostly in the English-speaking world. The phrase is a metaphor from British horse racing, where there is a post at the finish line[2] (though there is no specific percentage "finish line" required to win in this voting system, only being furthest ahead in the race).

Many countries use FPTP alongside proportional representation in a non-compensatory parallel voting system. Others use it in compensatory mixed systems, such as part of mixed-member proportional representation or mixed single vote systems. In some countries that elect their legislatures by proportional representation, FPTP is used to elect their head of state.

FPTP can be used for single- and multiple-member electoral divisions. In a single-member election, the candidate with the highest number (but not necessarily a majority) of votes is elected. In a multiple-member election (or multiple-selection ballot), each voter casts (up to) the same number of votes as there are positions to be filled, and those elected are the highest-placed candidates corresponding to that number of positions. For example, if there are three vacancies, then voters cast up to three votes and the three candidates with the greatest number of votes are elected.

The multiple-round election (runoff) voting method uses the FPTP voting method in each of two rounds. The first round, held according to block voting rules, determines which candidates may progress to the second and final round.

Under a first-past-the-post voting method, the highest polling candidate is elected. In this real-life illustration from the 2011 Singaporean presidential election, presidential candidate Tony Tan obtained a greater number of votes than any of the other candidates. Therefore, he was declared the winner, although the second-placed candidate had an inferior margin of only 0.35% and a majority of voters (64.8%) did not vote for Tony Tan:

The effect of a system based on plurality voting spread over a number of separate districts is that the larger parties, and parties with more geographically concentrated support, gain a disproportionately large share of seats, while smaller parties with more evenly distributed support gain a disproportionately small share. It is more likely that a single party will hold a majority of legislative seats. In the United Kingdom, 19 of the 24 general elections since 1922 have produced a single-party majority government; for example, the 2005 general election results were as follows:

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