Electoral Systems used Today

There are six different types of electoral systems used in today’s democracies. They are split into two broad categories; majoritarian and proportional systems.

Majoritarian Systems
First Past the Post (Single Member Plurality)
Second Ballot
Alternative Vote/Supplementary Vote

Proportional Systems
Alternative Member System
Proportional representation Single transferable Vote
Party List

First Past the Post (FPTP) – Majoritarian
This system is used in the United Kingdom, Canada, USA and India.

The country is split into constituencies of equal sizes. Each constituency has one representative in the assembly creating a strong link between the area and it’s representative. Strong, effective, stable single-party government are normally formed. Small extremist parties rarely win seats under this system. To get elected a candidate just needs to get the majority of the votes, this leads to a lot of wasted votes as the person elected might only get 26% of the vote.

Second Ballot – Majoritarian
This is mainly used in France and the Ukraine.

There are single member constituencies with single-choice voting. After the first ballot if no candidate has an overall majority, a second run-off ballot is held between the two leading candidates. Candidates are forced to have a broad appeal to get elected.

Alternative Vote (AV); Supplementary Vote (SV) – Majoritarian
Used in Australia (AV) and in the United Kingdom (London Mayor (SV)).

There are single member constituencies and electors use preferential voting. . The winning candidate must have 50% of the vote. This system is fairer than the second ballot as it stops candidates from forming deals.

Additional Member System (AMS) – Proportional
Used in Germany, Italy, Russia, New Zealand, Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

A percentage of the seats are filled by the FPTP system. The rest of the seats are filled by a party list system. This allows a constituency to have its own representative from one party and vote for a another party to govern.

Proportional Representation: Single Transferable Vote (PRSTV) – Proportional
Used in the Republic of Ireland and in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

There are multi-member constituencies (up to five seats) in which parties can field as many candidates as there is seats. Candidates are elected when they reach a quota. Having several representatives means constituents can choose who to take there grievances to.

Party List System – Proportional
Used in Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and various other European States.

The entire country is treated as one constituency. The voters vote for the party of their liking. The party list system is the most proportional system used as if a party gets 45% of the votes it gets 45% of the seats.

Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

Leave a Reply