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AP Comparative Government and Politics Sachem North High School

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1 AP Comparative Government and Politics Sachem North High School
Electoral Systems Dr. Afxendiou AP Comparative Government and Politics Sachem North High School

2 ELECTORAL SYSTEM - the method used to calculate the number of elected positions in government that individuals and parties are awarded after elections. How votes are translated into seats in parliament or into acquiring the presidency

Plurality electoral systems Majority electoral systems Proportional representation

“First-past-the-post” “winner take all” award a seat to the individual candidate who receives the most votes in an election No majority needed in order to win, only a larger number of votes than the other candidates Depend on single-member districts – voters choose one candidate on their ballot POSITIVE - Lead to very stable political systems that are dominated by two dominant political parties

NEGATIVE – candidate does not represent the interests of all or even of most of the voters as most of them may have voted for the other candidates. Examples of plurality electoral system: House and Senate elections in the US House of Commons elections in the UK

“second ballot systems” attempt to provide for a greater degree of representativeness by requiring that candidates achieve a majority of votes in order to win. Majority = 50%-plus-one-vote If no candidate gets a majority of votes, then a second round of voting is held. In the second round of voting, only a select number of candidates from the first round are allowed to participate. In some countries, such as Russia, the top two vote-getters in the first round move on to the second round. Depend on single-member districts – voters choose one candidate on their ballot

attempt to make the percentage of seats awarded to candidates reflect as closely as possible the percentage of votes that they received in the election Depend on multi-member districts These electoral systems have many variations to achieve their goal of representation most straightforward version of PR is to award a party the same percentage of seats in parliament as it gets votes at the polls. So, if a party won 40% of the vote it would receive 40% of the seats. What do you do if a party got .25% of the votes? What if they got 16.5% of the vote? How many seats do these unclear percentages get?

Problems solved by the Party List System and the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system Party List System: voters vote for parties rather than for individual candidates CLOSED PARTY LIST SYSTEM - the parties themselves determine who will fill the seats that they have been allocated; voters vote only for a particular party, and then it is up to the party to decide which party members will actually serve as representatives. OPEN PARTY LIST SYSTEM - voters are given some degree of choice among individual candidates, in addition to voting for entire parties.

Party List System: After the votes are counted a variety of formulas are used to figure out how many seats each party gets VOTE THRESHOLD - an arbitrary percentage of the vote set by law that parties have to pass before they can be considered in the allocation of seats. Any party that does not reach the threshold is excluded from the calculation of seats. For example, Russian parties need a 7% of the vote to be eligible for seats. The higher the threshold the fewer parties represented in the legislative body.

Single transferable vote (STV) yields an even more proportional result than party list systems System developed by British politician Thomas Hare in the 1800s voters vote for individuals, not for parties (as in the party list system). BUT individual voters rank candidates according to their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, . . ., nth choices. Rather than simply voting for a single candidate, voters have the opportunity to express a range of preferences for several candidates on the ballot. Mathematical formulas are then used to figure out the seat allocations

11 Sources Charles King, “Electoral Systems,” 2000, Georgetown University, Jack Bielasiak, “Electoral Systems and Political Parties,” Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

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