THE outcome of the General Election will be decided by a system called first-past-the-post.
Here’s the lowdown on what this means, and which other countries use the same system.
What is the first-past-the-post voting system?
Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system means it’s a winner-takes all situation.
There is no system of proportional representation for candidates who come second in each constituency.
For the election to produce a majority government, the biggest party theoretically must win at least 326 seats of the 650 regional constituencies.
But in practice, the threshold for a majority is around 323, because the Irish republican Sinn Fein party does not take up any seats it wins in Northern Ireland.
A party which wins a majority will seek to implement policy proposals which it set out during the campaign.
When did the UK start using first-past-the-post?
Britain has a centuries old democracy.
But we only started using first-past-post properly in the election of 1888.
Before that a complicated system was used which favoured politicians from the wealthy, landowning establishment.
Where else is the system used?
In the UK we use it to elect members of the House of Commons, but it is employed elsewhere.
Both chambers of the US Congress use it, plus the lower houses in India and Canada as well as a host of nations that used to be British colonies.
It is the second most popular voting system in the world.
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