home

 

intro

Conservative, Labour and Liberal (Left and Right)

Capitalism, Communism, Mixed Economy, Socialism Democracy Where do you get the facts? (a) sources (b) crapometers

 

Democracy comes from a Greek word (demos) meaning ‘the people’. The idea is that governments are made only when people vote for them so you are governed by your choice of person or party. Thet rule on your behalf.


A lot depends on:


how the voting system works


how you get the information to make up your mind


If we all have one vote each that is democratic. Then we need to know the facts to know who to vote for. Where do you get your facts? From friends? Social media? Newspapers? TV?


If a large television station and several newspapers all belong to one person, who can tell you whatever story they like, can they influence how you vote? If you read one paper, do you read another one too in case it has a different version? Most people don’t bother.


If you see something on Facebook or Google or Twitter, how do you know if it is true? Would they be good ways of spreading lies or rumours to try to get votes or undermine your opponent?


Once you are sure you have the facts, you cast your vote. Maybe your party (A) gets 30%. Party B gets 31%. Party C gets 39%. So party C wins and forms a government. 61% don’t want it but it got the biggest vote so it wins. Our First Past the Post system works like that.


Votes

For

Against

Result

A

30

70

Lose

B

31

69

Lose

C

39

61

Win

Another system (single transferable vote) allows people to have second choices. If nobody gets at least 51% then the smaller party drops out and all their supporter’s votes go to their second choice. Then whoever becomes a government has a majority on their side, even if only as second choice for many of the voters.
Round one


Votes

For

Against

Result

A

20

80

Goes out

B

39

61

Try again

C

41

59

Try again

Round two


Votes

For

Against

Result

B

54

46

Win

C

46

54

Lose

Proportional representation is another system. It takes in all the votes then hands out seats in government according to the proportion of the vote each party got. Suppose there are 400 seats in parliament to be won. If party A gets 50% of the votes it gets 50% of the seats = 200. If it gets 10% of the votes you get 10% of the seats = 40.

This is an example you can practise you maths on:

Votes

% of the votes cast
(rounded)

Seats in parliament
(rounded)

A = 8,000

8.42%

34

B = 47,000

49.47%

198

C = 40,000

42.10%

168

Not bothering to vote = 5,000

 

 

Total votes cast = 95,000

100 (more or less)

400

Then they’d fight it out for who really makes the decisions and who gets to have the Prime Minister etc. Notice that in this case, with only 34 seats from 8000 votes, party A could join up with B or C to make a government that has over 50%, so both parties would have to be very nice to them to get their votes. That gives lots of influence to the least popular party.

 

So, all in all, Democracy is not so simple. But it works better if the voters take it seriously and make sure they know what is going on.


That raises the question of how you get your information to help you decide.

Next page: where do you get your facts?