In the UK, although First Past The Post remains as the biggest electoral system for electing Prime Minister, other alternative electoral systems like Supplementary Voting, Additional Member System, and Single Transferable Voting are also essential to UK politics where they have been implemented in different elections around the country. Arguably they may not be an effective substitution over FPTP, but they are advantageous and indispensable in making the UK electoral system more democratic and fairer. 


To start with, it is not until 1997 that the voting system in the UK become diversified. Under the Blair government, proportional additional member system (AMS) was created, which was designed for the devolved body in Scotland, Wales, and London. Now AMS is mainly used for choosing members of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh National Assembly, and the Great London Assembly. AMS has largely improved democracy mainly due to its ‘proportionality’ characteristics. AMS works as a hybrid of FPTP where a fairer outcome and better proportional representation can be seen. Every voter gets two ballot papers, one for party candidates for their local constituency and one for party slates of candidates for the wider regional contest. The first votes work in the same plurality way as FPTP where the winner with the most votes wins the most seats. In the second round, where the runner-up party is underrepresented, it will get seats until the big two got over-represented then the third party got seats, and so on. A key rationale for the AMS system is to offer proportional representation for each of the bodies involved. For example, in Scotland, the percentage of the electoral system’s deviation from proportionality is almost twice as well in terms of matching party seats with their vote shares compared to the Westminster under FPTP. It is undeniable that AMS has improved democracy in terms of producing electoral fairness and avoiding tactical voting wherein AMS, voters can actually vote for their preferred parties. However, on the other hand, it is controversial seeing the drawback of AMS has not improved democracy. It is relatively confusing where it requires a specific formula to calculate the proportional representation compare to FPTP, this may decrease political participation in some way. Also, constituency representation may be less effective as representatives in the party-list have no constituency duties. Another argument is although theoretically, AMS allows the possibility of a strong single government, i.e., people vote for the same party for both rounds, proportional voting systems tend to produce coalition or minority governments. In reality, AMS has only delivered one single-party outcome (when the SNP won an outright majority in the Edinburgh Parliament in 2011). Overall, AMS still gives a better representation especially for women and minority groups.


Despite the Additional Member System, the Supplementary Voting system (SV) is another successful example in the way of an alternative electoral system that has improved democracy in the UK. SV is a majoritarian system, and it is known for the London mayor electorate and choosing all police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales. It is a two-ballot paper voting as well where voters need to fill in their first and second preferred candidates. The candidates with over 50% votes will be elected straightaway. If there is no majority in the first round, the top two candidates go into a run-off stage, where the votes of voters who voted for the eliminated candidates in the first round will be redistributed according to their second preferences and add up to the top-two. The biggest advantage is there are fewer wasted votes compare to FPTP, which is very beneficial when used in electing ‘sub-elections’, e.g., London mayor and PCCs. Although SV might encourage voters to support only main party candidates as other parties are always soon be eliminated in the first round, for example, London mayors have only shifted between Conservatives and Labours, the second preference of all the voters is counted, encouraging consensus politics and giving out less divisive campaigning. In 2017 the Conservative election manifesto proposed to replace all SV elections with FPTP but failed to get a Commons majority, this proved the well-establishment and success of SV. SV also gives out a relatively high turnout rate at 40-45% in recent London mayoral elections which are quite high for local elections. Therefore, the Supplementary Voting system to a large extent remedy the disadvantages of the plurality system and has worked well so far to construct a more complete and democratic electoral system in the UK.


Last but not least, Single Transferable Voting is also a vital system in the UK electorate where it is used in Northern Ireland and private and local electorate such as the Student Union and. It used complex mathematical formulae and candidates are ranked by voters where votes can be transferred when calculating. STV has a clear advantage of achieving highly proportional outcomes and avoiding tactical voting and tyranny of the minority, but it produces a weak MP-constituency link, and it is unlikely to create a strong single government due to the transferable votes. Although STV has not been a common alternative voting system, its result better reflects public support, which helps to ensure that both sides will be more fairly represented and therefore willing to support the peace process and a more democratic government.


In conclusion, it is all three alternative voting systems plus the main FPTP system created the whole image of the UK electorate system. They have all operated effectively and increased the electoral legitimacy of governments. Of course, no voting system is perfect, but these alternative voting systems are complementary with FPTP to ensure the variety and fairness in the electorate in both devolved bodies and local elections, which has improved democracy in the UK to a large extent.