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Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body.[1] The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideological partitioning of the electorate. For instance at the European parliament each member state has a number of seats that is (roughly) proportional to its population (an instance of geographical representation). The same logic prevails when voters vote for parties (ideological partition of the electorate). If n% of the electorate support a particular political party or set of candidates as their favorite, then roughly n% of seats will be won by that party or those candidates.[2] The essence of such systems is that all votes contribute to the result—not just a plurality, or a bare majority. The most prevalent forms of proportional representation all require the use of multiple-member voting districts (also called super-districts), as it is not possible to fill a single seat in a proportional manner. In fact, PR systems that achieve the highest levels of proportionality tend to include districts with large numbers of seats.[3]

The most widely used families of PR electoral systems are party-list PR, the single transferable vote (STV), and mixed-member proportional representation (MMP).[4]

With party list PR, political parties define candidate lists and voters vote for a list. The relative vote for each list determines how many candidates from each list are actually elected. Lists can be "closed" or "open"; open lists allow voters to indicate individual candidate preferences and vote for independent candidates. Voting districts can be small (as few as three seats in some districts in Chile) or as large as a province or an entire nation.

The single transferable vote uses multiple-member districts, with voters casting only one vote each but ranking individual candidates in order of preference (by providing back-up preferences). During the count, as candidates are elected or eliminated, surplus or discarded votes that would otherwise be wasted are transferred to other candidates according to the preferences, forming consensus groups that elect surviving candidates. STV enables voters to vote across party lines, to choose the most preferred of a party's candidates and vote for independent candidates, knowing that if the candidate is not elected his/her vote will likely not be wasted if the voter marks back-up preferences on the ballot.

Mixed member proportional representation (MMP), also called the additional member system (AMS), is a two-tier mixed electoral system combining local non-proportional plurality/majoritarian elections and a compensatory regional or national party list PR election. Voters typically have two votes, one for their single-member district and one for the party list, the party list vote determining the balance of the parties in the elected body.[3][5]

According to the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network,[6] some form of proportional representation is used for national lower house elections in 94 countries. Party list PR, being used in 85 countries, is the most widely used. MMP is used in seven lower houses. STV, despite long being advocated by political scientists,[3]:71 is used in only two: Ireland, since independence in 1922,[7] and Malta, since 1921.[8] STV is also used in the Australian Senate, and can be used for nonpartisan elections such as the city council of Cambridge MA.[9]

Due to factors such as electoral thresholds and the use of small constituencies, as well as manipulation tactics such as party splitting and gerrymandering, perfect proportionality is rarely achieved under these systems. Nonetheless, they approximate proportionality much better than other systems.[10]

Advantages and disadvantages

The case for proportional representation was made by John Stuart Mill in his 1861 essay Considerations on Representative Government:

In a representative body actually deliberating, the minority must of course be overruled; and in an equal democracy, the majority of the people, through their representatives, will outvote and prevail over the minority and their representatives. But does it follow that the minority should have no representatives at all? ... Is it necessary that the minority should not even be heard? Nothing but habit and old association can reconcile any reasonable being to the needless injustice. In a really equal democracy, every or any section would be represented, not disproportionately, but proportionately. A majority of the electors would always have a majority of the representatives, but a minority of the electors would always have a minority of the representatives. Man for man, they would be as fully represented as the majority. Unless they are, there is not equal government ... there is a part whose fair and equal share of influence in the representation is withheld from them, contrary to all just government, but, above all, contrary to the principle of democracy, which professes equality as its very root and foundation.[1]

Many academic political theorists agree with Mill,[11] that in a representative democracy the representatives should represent all substantial segments of society, a goal impossible to achieve under First past the post.

Fairness

Canada-election-2015.jpg

PR tries to resolve the unfairness of majoritarian and plurality voting systems where the largest parties receive an "unfair" "seat bonus" and smaller parties are disadvantaged and are always under-represented and on occasion winning no representation at all (Duverger's law).[12] [13][14]:6–7 An established party in UK elections can win majority control of the House of Commons with as little as 35% of votes (2005 UK general election). In certain Canadian elections, majority governments have been formed by parties with the support of under 40% of votes cast (2011 Canadian election, 2015 Canadian election). If turnout levels in the electorate are less than 60%, such outcomes allow a party to form a majority government by convincing as few as one quarter of the electorate to vote for it. In the 2005 UK election, for example, the Labour Party under Tony Blair won a comfortable parliamentary majority with the votes of only 21.6% of the total electorate.[15]:3 Such misrepresentation has been criticized as "no longer a question of 'fairness' but of elementary rights of citizens".[16]party-list PR, the single transferable vote (STV), and mixed-member proportional representation (MMP).[4]

With party list PR, political parties define candidate lists and voters vote for a list. The relative vote for each list determines how many candidates from each list are actually elected. Lists can be "closed" or "open"; open lists allow voters to indicate individual candidate preferences and vote for independent candidates. Voting districts can be small (as few as three seats in some districts in Chile) or as large as a province or an entire nation.

The single transferable vote uses multiple-member districts, with voters casting only one vote each but ranking individual candidates in order of preference (by providing back-up preferences). During the count, as candidates are elected or eliminated, surplus or discarded votes that would otherwise be wasted are transferred to other candidates according to the preferences, forming consensus groups that elect surviving candidates. STV enables voters to vote across party lines, to choose the most preferred of a party's candidates and vote for independent candidates, knowing that if the candidate is not elected his/her vote will likely not be wasted if the voter marks back-up preferences on the ballot.

Mixed member proportional representation (MMP), also called the additional member system (AMS), is a two-tier mixed electoral system combining local non-proportional plurality/majoritarian elections and a compensatory regional or national party list PR election. Voters typically have two votes, one for their single-member district and one for the party list, the party list vote determining the balance of the parties in the elected body.[3][5]

According to the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network,[6] some form of proportional representation is used for national lower house elections in 94 countries. Party list PR, being used in 85 countries, is the most widely used. MMP is used in seven lower houses. STV, despite long being advocated by political scientists,[3]:71 is used in only two: Ireland, since independence in 1922,[7] and Malta, since 1921.[8] STV is also used in the Australian Senate, and can be used for nonpartisan elections such as the city council of Cambridge MA.[9]

Due to factors such as electoral thresholds and the use of small constituencies, as well as manipulation tactics such as party splitting and gerrymandering, perfect proportionality is rarely achieved under these systems. Nonetheless, they approximate proportionality much better than other systems.[10]

The case for proportional representation was made by John Stuart Mill in his 1861 essay Considerations on Representative Government:

In a representative body actually deliberating, the minority must of course be overruled; and in an equal democracy, the majority of the people, through their representatives, will outvote and prevail over the minority and their representatives. But does it follow that the minority should have no representatives at all? ... Is it necessary that the minority should not even be heard? Nothing but habit and old association can reconcile any reasonable being to the needless injustice. In a really equal democracy, every or any section would be represented, not disproportionately, but proportionately. A majority of the electors would always have a majority of the representatives, but a minority of the electors would always have a minority of the representatives. Man for man, they would be as fully represented as the majority. Unless they are, there is not equal government ... there is a part whose fair and equal share of influence in the representation is withheld from them, contrary to all just government, but, above all, contrary to the principle of democracy, which professes equality as its very root and foundation.[1]

Many academic political theorists agree with Mill,[11] that in a representative democracy the representatives should represent all substantial segments of society, a goal impossible to achieve under First past the post.

Fairness

Canada-election-2015.jpg

PR tries to resolve the unfairness of majoritarian and plurality voting systems where the largest parties receive an "unfair" "seat bonus" and smaller parties are disadvantaged and are always under-represented and on occasion winning no representation at all (Duverger's law).[12] [13][14]:6–7 An established party in UK elections can win majority control of the House of Commons with as little as 35% of votes (2005 UK general election). In certain Canadian elections, majority governments have been formed by parties with the support of under 40% of votes cast (2011 Canadian election, 2015 Canadian election). If turnout levels in the electorate are less than 60%, such outcomes allow a party to form a majority government by convincing as few as one quarter of the electorate to vote for it. In the 2005 UK election, for example, the Labour Party under Tony Blair won a comfortable parliamentary majority with the votes of only 21.6% of the total electorate.[15]:3 Such misrepresentation has been criticized as "no longer a question of 'fairness' but of elementary rights of citizens".[16]:22 However, intermediate PR systems with a high electoral threshold, or other features that reduce proportionality, are not necessarily much fairer: in the 2002 Turkish general election, using an open list system with a 10% threshold, 46% of votes were wasted.[3]:83

Plurality/majoritarian systems also benefit regional parties that win many seats in the region where they have a strong following but have little support nationally, while other parties with national support that is not concentrated in specific districts, like the Greens, win few or no seats. An example is the Bloc Québécois in Canada that won 52 seats in the 1993 federal election, all in Quebec, on 13.5% of the national vote, while the Progressive Conservatives collapsed to two seats on 16% spread nationally. The Conservative party although strong nationally had had very strong regional support in the West but in this election its supporters in the West turned to the Reform party, which won most of its seats west of Saskatchewan and none east of Manitoba.[14][17] Similarly, in the 2015 UK

In a representative body actually deliberating, the minority must of course be overruled; and in an equal democracy, the majority of the people, through their representatives, will outvote and prevail over the minority and their representatives. But does it follow that the minority should have no representatives at all? ... Is it necessary that the minority should not even be heard? Nothing but habit and old association can reconcile any reasonable being to the needless injustice. In a really equal democracy, every or any section would be represented, not disproportionately, but proportionately. A majority of the electors would always have a majority of the representatives, but a minority of the electors would always have a minority of the representatives. Man for man, they would be as fully represented as the majority. Unless they are, there is not equal government ... there is a part whose fair and equal share of influence in the representation is withheld from them, contrary to all just government, but, above all, contrary to the principle of democracy, which professes equality as its very root and foundation.[1]

Many academic political theorists agree with Mill,[11] that in a Many academic political theorists agree with Mill,[11] that in a representative democracy the representatives should represent all substantial segments of society, a goal impossible to achieve under First past the post.

PR tries to resolve the unfairness of majoritarian and plurality voting systems where the largest parties receive an "unfair" "seat bonus" and smaller parties are disadvantaged and are always under-represented and on occasion winning no representation at all (Duverger's law).[12] [13][14]:6–7 An established party in UK elections can win majority control of the House of Commons with as little as 35% of votes (2005 UK general election). In certain Canadian elections, majority governments have been formed by parties with the support of under 40% of votes cast (2011 Canadian election, 2015 Canadian election). If turnout levels in the electorate are less than 60%, such outcomes allow a party to form a majority government by convincing as few as one quarter of the electorate to vote for it. In the 2005 UK election, for example, the Labour Party under Tony Blair won a comfortable parliamentary majority with the votes of only 21.6% of the total electorate.[15]:3 Such misrepresentation has been criticized as "no longer a question of 'fairness' but of elementary rights of citizens".[16]:22 However, intermediate PR systems with a high electoral threshold, or other features that reduce proportionality, are not necessarily much fairer: in the 2002 Turkish general election, using an open list system with a 10% threshold, 46% of votes were wasted.[3]:83

Plurality/majoritarian systems also benefit regional parties that win many seats in the region where they have a strong following but have little support nationally, while other parties with national support that is not concentrated in specific districts, like the Greens, win few or no seats. An example is the Bloc Québécois in Canada that won 52 seats in the 1993 federal election, all in Quebec, on 13.5% of the national vote, while the Progressive Conservatives collapsed to two seats on 16% spread nationally. The Conservative party although strong nationally had had ver

Plurality/majoritarian systems also benefit regional parties that win many seats in the region where they have a strong following but have little support nationally, while other parties with national support that is not concentrated in specific districts, like the Greens, win few or no seats. An example is the Bloc Québécois in Canada that won 52 seats in the 1993 federal election, all in Quebec, on 13.5% of the national vote, while the Progressive Conservatives collapsed to two seats on 16% spread nationally. The Conservative party although strong nationally had had very strong regional support in the West but in this election its supporters in the West turned to the Reform party, which won most of its seats west of Saskatchewan and none east of Manitoba.[14][17] Similarly, in the 2015 UK General Election, the Scottish National Party gained 56 seats, all in Scotland, with a 4.7% share of the national vote while the UK Independence Party, with 12.6%, gained only a single seat.[18]

The use of multiple-member districts enables a greater variety of candidates to be elected. The more representatives per district and the lower the percentage of votes required for election, the more minor parties can gain representation. It has been argued that in emerging democracies, inclusion of minorities in the legislature can be essential for social stability and to consolidate the democratic process.[3]:58

Critics, on the other hand, claim this can give extreme parties a foothold in parliament, sometimes cited as a cause for the collapse of the Weimar government. With very low thresholds, very small parties can act as "king-makers",collapse of the Weimar government. With very low thresholds, very small parties can act as "king-makers",[19] holding larger parties to ransom during coalition discussions. The example of Israel is often quoted,[3]:59 but these problems can be limited, as in the modern German Bundestag, by the introduction of higher threshold limits for a party to gain parliamentary representation (which in turn increases the number of wasted votes).

Another criticism is that the dominant parties in plurality/majoritarian systems, often looked on as "coalitions" or as "broad churches",[20] can fragment under PR as the election of candidates from smaller groups becomes possible. Israel, again, and Brazil and Italy are examples.[3]:59,89 However, research shows, in general, there is only a small increase in the number of parties in parliament (although small parties have larger representation) under PR.[21]

Open list systems and STV, the only prominent PR system which does not require political parties,[22] enable independent candidates to be elected. In Ireland, on average, about six independent candidates have been elected each parliament.[23] This can lead to a situation that forming a Parliamentary majority requires support of one or more of these independent representatives. In some cases these independents have positions that are closely aligned with the governing party and it hardly matters. The Irish Government formed after the 2016 election even include independent representatives in the cabinet of a minority government. In others, the electoral platform is entirely local and addressing this is a price for support.

The election of smaller parties gives rise to one of the principal objections to PR systems, that they almost always result in coalition governments.[3]:59[11]

Supporters of PR see coalitions as an advantage, forcing compromise between parties to form a coalition at the centre of the political spectrum, and so leading to continuity and stability. Opponents counter that with many policies compromise is not possi

Supporters of PR see coalitions as an advantage, forcing compromise between parties to form a coalition at the centre of the political spectrum, and so leading to continuity and stability. Opponents counter that with many policies compromise is not possible. Neither can many policies be easily positioned on the left-right spectrum (for example, the environment). So policies are horse-traded during coalition formation, with the consequence that voters have no way of knowing which policies will be pursued by the government they elect; voters have less influence on governments. Also, coalitions do not necessarily form at the centre, and small parties can have excessive influence, supplying a coalition with a majority only on condition that a policy or policies favoured by few voters is/are adopted. Most importantly, the ability of voters to vote a party in disfavour out of power is curtailed.[11]

All these disadvantages, the PR opponents contend, are avoided by two-party plurality systems. Coalitions are rare; the two dominant parties necessarily compete at the centre for votes, so that governments are more reliably moderate; the strong opposition necessary for proper scrutiny of government is assured; and governments remain sensitive to public sentiment because they can be, and are, regularly voted out of power.[11] However, this is not necessarily so; a two-party system can result in a "drift to extremes", hollowing out the centre,[24] or, at least, in one party drifting to an extreme.[25] The opponents of PR also contend that coalition governments created under PR are less stable, and elections are more frequent. Italy is an often-cited example with many governments composed of many different coalition partners. However, Italy is unusual in that both its houses can make a government fall, whereas other PR nations have either just one house or have one of their two houses be the core body supporting a government. Italy's mix of FPTP and PR since 1993 also makes for a complicated setup, so Italy is not an appropriate candidate for measuring the stability of PR.

Voter participation

Plurality systems usually result in single-party-majority government because generally fewer parties are elected in large numbers under FPTP compared to PR, and FPTP compresses politics to little more than two-party contests, with relatively few votes in a few of the most finely balanced districts, the "swing seats", able to swing majority control in the house. Incumbents in less evenly divided districts are invulnerable to slight swi

Plurality systems usually result in single-party-majority government because generally fewer parties are elected in large numbers under FPTP compared to PR, and FPTP compresses politics to little more than two-party contests, with relatively few votes in a few of the most finely balanced districts, the "swing seats", able to swing majority control in the house. Incumbents in less evenly divided districts are invulnerable to slight swings of political mood. In the UK, for example, about half the constituencies have always elected the same party since 1945;[26] in the 2012 US House elections 45 districts (10% of all districts) were uncontested by one of the two dominant parties.[27] Voters who know their preferred candidate will not win have little incentive to vote, and even if they do their votes have no effect, it is "wasted", although they would be counted in the popular vote calculation.[3]:10

With PR, there are no "swing seats", most votes contribute to the election of a candidate so parties need to campaign in all districts, not just those where their support is strongest or where they perceive most advantage. This fact in turn encourages parties to be more responsive to voters

With PR, there are no "swing seats", most votes contribute to the election of a candidate so parties need to campaign in all districts, not just those where their support is strongest or where they perceive most advantage. This fact in turn encourages parties to be more responsive to voters, producing a more "balanced" ticket by nominating more women and minority candidates.[14] On average about 8% more women are elected.[21]

Since most votes count, there are fewer "wasted votes", so voters, aware that their vote can make a difference, are more likely to make the effort to vote, and less likely to vote tactically. Compared to countries with plurality electoral systems, voter turnout improves and the population is more involved in the political process.[3][14][21] However some experts argue that transitioning from plurality to PR only increases voter turnout in geographical areas associated with safe seats under the plurality system; turnout may decrease in areas formerly associated with swing seats.[28]

To ensure approximately equal representation, plurality systems are dependent on the drawing of boundaries of their single-member districts, a process vulnerable to political interference (gerrymandering). To compound the problem, boundaries have to be periodically re-drawn to accommodate population changes. Even apolitically drawn boundaries can unintentionally produce the effect of gerrymandering, reflecting naturally occurring concentrations.[29]:65

PR systems with their multiple-member districts are less prone to this – research suggests five-seat districts or larger are immune to gerrymandering.[29]:66PR systems with their multiple-member districts are less prone to this – research suggests five-seat districts or larger are immune to gerrymandering.[29]:66

Equality of size of multiple-member districts is not important (the number of seats can vary) so districts can be aligned with historical territories of varying sizes such as cities, counties, states, or provinces. Later population changes can be accommodated by simply adjusting the number of representatives elected. For example, Professor Mollison in his 2010 plan for STV for the UK divided the country into 143 districts and then allocated a different number of seats to each district (to equal the existing total of 650) depending on the number of voters in each but with wide ranges (his five-seat districts include one with 327,000 voters and another with 382,000 voters). His district boundaries follow historical county and local authority boundaries, yet he achieves more uniform representation than does the Boundary Commission, the body responsible for balancing the UK's first-past-the-post constituency sizes.[26][30]

Mixed member systems are susceptible to gerrymandering for the local seats that remain a part of such systems. Under parallel voting, a semi-proportional system, there is no compensation for the effects that such gerrymandering might have. Under MMP, the use of compensatory list seats makes gerrymandering less of an issue. However, its effectiveness in this regard depends upon the features of the system, including the size of the regional districts, the relative share of list seats in the total, and opportunities for collusion that might exist. A striking example of how the compensatory mechanism can be undermined can be seen in the 2014 Hungarian parliamentary election, where the leading party, Fidesz, combined gerrymandering and decoy lists, which resulted in a two-thirds parliamentary majority from a 45% vote.[31][32] This illustrates how certain implementations of MMP can produce moderately proportional outcomes, similar to parallel voting.

It is generally accepted that a particular advantage of plurality electoral systems such as first past the post, or majoritarian electoral systems such as the alternative vote, is the geographic link between representatives and their constituents.[3]:36[33]:65[16]:21 A notable disadvantage of PR is that, as its multiple-member districts are made larger, this link is weakened.[3]:82 In party list PR systems without delineated districts, such as the Netherlands and Israel, the geographic link between representatives and their constituents is considered weak, but has shown to play a role for some parties. Yet with relatively small multiple-member districts, in particular with STV, there are counter-arguments: about 90% of voters can consult a representative they voted for, someone whom they might think more sympathetic to their problem. In such cases it is sometimes argued that constituents and representatives have a closer link;[26][29]:212 constituents have a choice of representative so they can consult one with particular expertise in the topic at issue.[29]:212[34] With multiple-member districts, prominent candidates have more opportunity to be elected in their home constituencies, which they know and can represent authentically. There is less likely to be a strong incentive to parachute them into constituencies in which they are strangers and thus less than ideal representatives.[35]:248–250 Mixed-member PR systems incorporate single-member districts to preserve the link between constituents and representatives.[3]:95 However, because up to half the parliamentary seats are list rather than district seats, the districts are necessarily up to twice as large as with a plurality/majoritarian system where all representatives serve single-member districts.[16]:32

An interesting case occurred in the Netherlands, when "out of the blue" a Party for the Elderly gained six seats. The other parties had not paid attention, but this made them aware. With the next election, the Party of the Elderly was gone, because the established parties had started to listen to the elderly. Today, a party for older folks, 50PLUS, has established itself firm

An interesting case occurred in the Netherlands, when "out of the blue" a Party for the Elderly gained six seats. The other parties had not paid attention, but this made them aware. With the next election, the Party of the Elderly was gone, because the established parties had started to listen to the elderly. Today, a party for older folks, 50PLUS, has established itself firmly in the Netherlands. This can be seen as an example how geography in itself may not be a good enough reason to establish voting results around it and overturn all other particulars of the voting population. In a sense, voting in districts restricts the voters to a specific geography. Proportional voting follows the exact outcome of all the votes.[36]

Academics agree that the most important influence on proportionality is an electoral district's magnitude, the number of representatives elected from the district. Proportionality improves as the magnitude increases.[3] Some scholars recommend voting districts of roughly four to eight seats, which are considered small relative to PR systems in general.[37]

At one extreme, the binomial electoral system used in Chile between 1989 and 2013,[38] a nominally proportional open-list system, features two-member districts. As this system can be expected to result in the election of one candidate from each of the two dominant political blocks in most districts, it is not generally considered proportional.[3]:79

At one extreme, the binomial electoral system used in Chile between 1989 and 2013,[38] a nominally proportional open-list system, features two-member districts. As this system can be expected to result in the election of one candidate from each of the two dominant political blocks in most districts, it is not generally considered proportional.[3]:79

At the other extreme, where the district encompasses the entire country (and with a low minimum threshold, highly proportionate representation of political parties can result), parties gain by broadening their appeal by nominating more minority and women candidates.[3]:83

After the introduction of STV in Ireland in 1921 district magnitudes slowly diminished as more and more three-member constituencies were defined, benefiting the dominant Fianna Fáil, until 1979 when an independent boundary commission was established reversing the trend.[39] In 2010, a parliamentary constitutional committee recommended a minimum magnitude of four.[40] Nonetheless, despite relatively low magnitudes Ireland has generally experienced highly proportional results.[3]:73

In the FairVote plan for STV (which FairVote calls choice voting) for the US House of Representatives, three- to five-member super-districts are proposed.[41]

In Professor Mollison's plan for STV in the UK, four- and five-member districts are mostly used, with three and six seat districts used as necessary to fit existing boundaries, and even two and single member districts used where geography dictates.[26]

The electoral threshold is the minimum vote required to win a seat. The lower the threshold, the higher the proportion of votes contributing to the election of representatives and the lower the proportion of votes wasted.[3]

All electoral systems have thresholds, either formally defined or as a mathematical consequence of the parameters of the election.[3]:83

A formal threshold usually requires

All electoral systems have thresholds, either formally defined or as a mathematical consequence of the parameters of the election.[3]:83

A formal threshold usually requires parties to win a certain percentage of the vote in order to be awarded seats from the party lists. In Germany and New Zealand (both MMP), the threshold is 5% of the national vote but the threshold is not applied to parties that win a minimum number of constituency seats (three in Germany, one in New Zealand). Turkey defines a threshold of 10%, the Netherlands 0.67%.[3] Israel has raised its threshold from 1% (before 1992) to 1.5% (up to 2004), 2% (in 2006) and 3.25% in 2014.[42]

In STV elections, winning the quota (ballots/(seats+1)) of first preference votes assures election. However, well regarded candidates who attract good second (and third, etc.) preference support can hope to win election with only half the quota of first preference votes. Thus, in a six-seat district the effective threshold would be 7.14% of first preference votes (100/(6+1)/2).[26] The need to attract second preferences tends to promote consensus and disadvantage extremes.

Party magnitude is the number of candidates elected from one party in one district. As party magnitude increases a more balanced ticket will be more successful encouraging parties to nominate women and minority candidates for election.[43]

But under STV, nominating too many candidates can be counter-productive, splitting the first-preference votes and allowing the candidates to be eliminated before receiving transferred votes from other parties. An example of this was identified in a ward in the 2007 Scottish local elections where Labour, putting up three candidates, won only one seat while they might have won two had one of their voters' preferred candidates not stood.[26] The same effect may have contributed to the collapse of Fianna Fáil in the 2011 Irish general election.[44]

In a presidential system, the president is chosen independently from the parliament. As a consequence, it is possible to have a divided government where a parliament and president have opposing views and may want to balance each other influence. However, the proportional system favors government of coalitions of many smaller parties that require compromising and negotiating topics.[citation needed] As a consequence, these coalitions might have difficulties presenting a united front to counter presidential influence, leading to an lack of balance between these two powers. With a proportionally elected House, a President may strong-arm certain political issues[citation needed]

This issue does not happen in Parliamentary system, where the prime-minister is elected indirectly, by the parliament itself. As a consequence a divided government is impossible. Even if the political views change with time and the prime-minister lose its support from parliament, it can be replaced with a Parliamentary system, where the prime-minister is elected indirectly, by the parliament itself. As a consequence a divided government is impossible. Even if the political views change with time and the prime-minister lose its support from parliament, it can be replaced with a motion of no confidence. Effectively, both measures make it impossible to create a divided government.

Other aspects of PR can influence proportionality such as the size of the elected body, the choice of open or closed lists, ballot design, and vote counting methods.

Measuring proportionality

In closed list systems, each party lists its candidates according to the party's candidate selection process. This sets the order of candidates on the list and thus, in effect, their probability of being elected. The first candidate on a list, for example, will get the first seat that party wins. Each voter casts a vote for a list of candi

In closed list systems, each party lists its candidates according to the party's candidate selection process. This sets the order of candidates on the list and thus, in effect, their probability of being elected. The first candidate on a list, for example, will get the first seat that party wins. Each voter casts a vote for a list of candidates. Voters, therefore, do not have the option to express their preferences at the ballot as to which of a party's candidates are elected into office.[52][53] A party is allocated seats in proportion to the number of votes it receives.[54]

There is an intermediate system in Uruguay, where each party presents several closed lists, each representing a faction. Seats are distributed between parties according to the number of votes, and then between the factions within each party.[intermediate system in Uruguay, where each party presents several closed lists, each representing a faction. Seats are distributed between parties according to the number of votes, and then between the factions within each party.[citation needed]

In an open list, voters may vote, depending on the model, for one person, or for two, or indicate their order of preference within the list. These votes sometimes rearrange the order of names on the party's list and thus which of its candidates are elected. Nevertheless, the number of candidates elected from the list is determined by the number of votes the list receives.[citation needed]

Local list PR