chapter  17
39 Pages

Elections and electoral systems

Elections are central to democratic politics, providing a direct link between government and citizens. At a general election, voters reach a verdict on the record of the party in office and the relative merits of the policies offered by rival political parties, express a political preference by voting for their favoured candidate and thereby choose representatives to act on their behalf in the decision-making process. In combination, the votes of individual citizens in territorial constituencies determine both the make-up of the legislature and the political colour of the government. Voting remains the primary political activity undertaken by many citizens, but election turnout has declined, prompting concerns about the health of democracy in the UK.