This article picked by a teacher with suggested questions is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.


  • AQA Component 1, Section Elections and referendums

  • Edexcel Component 1, Section 3.3: Electoral system analysis: The impact of the electoral system on the government or type of government appointed.

Background: what you need to know 

The article looks at the recent power-sharing agreement between the Scottish National Party, the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, and the Greens. Two members of the Greens are to join the government, although the arrangement is not being described as a formal coalition — the two parties support Scottish independence but disagree on some other policy areas. This has occurred because the SNP was one seat short of a majority in the May 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections.

Click to read the articles below and then answer the questions:

SNP announces power-sharing deal with Scottish Greens

This article should be used to supplement your notes on how electoral systems have varying effects on the representation of parties in government across the UK. As the article notes, the partly proportional Additional Member System (AMS) has already produced a Scottish Labour-Lib Dem coalition and a period of SNP minority government.

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which different electoral systems in the UK have affected the representation of political parties. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the view that the adoption of different electoral systems in the UK has encouraged the growth of a multi-party system. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: The effects of the Additional Member System, used in Scotland and Wales, should be compared with the situation under First Past the Post at Westminster, where coalition governments remain rare. In Northern Ireland, by contrast, power-sharing is the norm under the fully proportional Single Transferable Vote system.

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article