"First Past the Post" - Who Dreamed This Up

I am referring, of course, not to the concept but to the term, which Wiktionary defines as "voting system where the candidate with the most votes (a plurality) wins, without any form of preference transfer".

There are no firsts or posts, metaphorical or otherwise, involved. The winner is not decided when a candidate reaches some defined number or percentage of votes (the metaphorical "post") before another candidate (the metaphorical "first"), but by whoever receives a plurality (the most) of votes when all the votes are counted in a particular constituency. Wikipedia uses the more sensible term "Plurality voting system".

The term "winner takes all" has also been used, and this at least makes some sense as it refers to the votes for the winning candidate electing that candidate, while the votes for other candidates or parties are of no impact at all.

At least "Mixed Member Proportional" makes sense as a term.

End of semantic rant.


Herbie said...

I believe in my old - very old - political science textbooks it was referred to as "single member plurality system." I guess the authors wanted to make sure students understood the one person only concept.

rww said...

That sounds like what a Political Scientist would call it. "First Past The Post" sounds like something a journalist dreamed up.