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Know the Differences & Comparisons

Difference Between First Past the Post (FPTP) and Proportional Representation (PR)

First Past the Post Vs Proportional RepresentationFirst Past the Post, is a voting method, in which citizens of a constituency cast votes for the candidate, whom they wish to represent them in the Parliament. On the other hand, Proportional Representation is the system of election in which the people cast their votes directly to a political party.

According to universal adult franchise all citizens of the country, who have attained the age of 18 years can cast a vote and take part in the formation of the government. In this way, the people can send their representative forward by electing them, who work for safeguarding their interest. First past the post and proportional representation system are the two voting systems which are commonly employed to elect the member of Parliament.

Comparison Chart
Meaning First Past the Post is a voting system, wherein people cast their votes to the candidate of their choice and the one getting the highest number of votes win. Proportional Representation is an electoral device in which seats are allotted to the political parties on the basis of the number of votes polled for them.
Constituency Entire country is segregated into various geographical units, i.e. constituencies. Large geographical areas are termed as constituencies.
Representative One representative is elected from each constituency. One or more representative can be elected from one constituency.
Voting Votes are casted for candidate. Votes are casted for the party.
Seats Votes may or may not be equal to the seats got. A party gets seats, as per the proportion of votes, it gets.
Majority Winning candidate may not gets the majority votes. Winning candidate gets the majority votes.
Accountability Exists Does not exist
Clashing of Ideas Does not prevail May Prevail.

Definition of First Past the Post System:
First Past the Post System, or otherwise known as Simple Majority System, is an electoral system in which the candidate who gets the maximum number of votes in the elections, gets elected, in a single member constituency. The result is based on the majority of votes obtained by the nominated candidate.

The multi-cornered contest is also experienced, wherein the number of candidates contesting the election rises to 3 or 4 and sometimes even more than 6. In such cases, the candidate getting the highest number of total votes cast, gets the seat, as it follows the simple rule of the majority, even if it is less than 50% of total votes.

It aims at electing a person who can represent the constituency, in the parliament. So, votes are cast by people for different candidates, who are nominated by a political party. Countries like UK, USA, Canada and India follows it.

Definition of Proportional Representation:
Proportional Representation or commonly called as Single Transferable Vote System implies an election system, wherein the representation of all classes of people is ensured, as each party gets as many numbers of seats as the proportion of votes the candidate polls in the election.

In this system, any political party or interest group obtains their representation in proportion to their voting strength, i.e. as soon as the votes are counted, each party gets the number of seats in the parliament according to the number of votes.

In this way, parties with the small support base, also get their representation in the legislature. Sometimes, it results in the multi-party coalition government. From the point of view of a voter, every vote is important, as it counts. It is followed in countries like Netherlands and Israel.

Key Differences Between First Past the Post (FPTP) and Proportional Representation (PR)
The difference between first past the post and proportional representation, are presented in the points given below:

First Past the Post (FPTP) system, can be understood as the voting method in which the citizens of a constituency cast their votes for a candidate and the one getting majority votes win the elections. As against, Proportional Representation (PR) is an electoral system wherein citizens cast their votes to the political parties and seats are allocated to the parties according to the voting strength they possess.
In first past the post system, the whole country is divided into different small geographical areas, i.e. constituencies. In contrast, proportional representation, large geographical units are considered as a constituency.
In first past the post system, from each constituency one candidates get elected. Unlike, proportional representation, where more than one candidate can be selected from a constituency.
In first past the post system, the citizens cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. In contrast, votes are cast for political party by the citizens of the constituency.
In FPTP system, the total seats allotted to a political party may or may not be equal to the votes. As opposed, in PR system, the party gets seats in proportion to the votes polled for them.
In first past the post system, accountability exist, as people know the candidate whom they voted and if he/she does not serve them or work for their betterment, they can ask questions. On the contrary, accountability is absent, in the sense that people cast their vote for a party and not to a candidate.
In first past the post system, the majority votes may or may not be secured by the winning candidate, whereas in the proportional representation system, the candidate who won the elections gets the majority votes.
In proportional representation, the political parties with a small number of votes get elected in the Parliament, which leads to the disagreement of ideas, due to many political parties in the parliament. Conversely, in first past the post, the candidates getting the maximum votes wins the elections, and the political party gets seats in the Parliament, and so, there is no clashing of ideas.

In India, first past the post system is opted for direct elections of Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assembly, but for indirect elections, i.e. Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council Elections, or for the election of President and Vice President, proportional representation system is adopted.


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