POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

First Past the Post

First past the post (FPTP) is the electoral system which is used in UK general elections. In addition to the election of the MPs for the House of Commons, FPTP is also used in local council elections in England and Wales.

The UK is currently divided into 650 constituencies which are each represented by a single Member of Parliament. Voters in each constituecy are entitled to cast one vote for their desired candidate, with the candidate who receives the most number of votes elected into Parliament. Under the first past the post system, receiving a majority of votes within a given constituency isn't required in order to win a seat in Parliament. To illustrate, in the constituency of South Belfast at the 2015 general election, Claire Hanna MP was elected to the House of Commons with just 24.5% of total votes - the lowest winning proportion in UK history. Critics of the first past the post system advocate implementing the alternative vote system.

The voters have one vote and give it to their preferred candidate. The candidate who receives the most votes represents their constituency in Parliament. 

See also: Alternative Vote, Majority Vote, Proportional Vote, Direct Elections, List Elections , Supplementary Vote

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