Political Electoral Systems

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of electoral systems
  3. Additional functionality


An electoral system is the set of rules that determine how elections and referenda are conducted and how their results are determined. Electoral political systems are organized by governments, while non-political elections can take place in companies, non-profit organizations and informal organizations. Electoral systems consist of a series of rules that regulate all aspects of the voting procedure: when elections are held, who is allowed to vote, who can apply, how votes are voted and how votes are polled, electoral method, campaign spending limits and other factors that can affect the outcome.

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Political electoral systems are defined by constitutions and electoral laws, they are usually conducted by electoral commissions and can use multiple types of elections for different offices. Some electoral systems elect a single winner in a single position, as prime minister, president or governor, while others elect multiple winners, such as members of parliament or boards of directors. There are many variations in the electoral systems, but the most common systems are the first, the two-round system, the proportional representation and the privileged or classified grade. Some electoral systems, such as mixed systems, try to combine the b47enefits of non-proportional and proportional systems.

The study of formally defined electoral methods is called social choice theory or voting theory, and this study can take place in the field of political, economic or mathematical sciences, and in particular in the subfields of game theory and the design of mechanisms. The impossibility tests such as Arrow's impossibility theorem show that it is impossible to design a "perfect" electoral method, so the academic comparisons of the proposed methods generally involve mathematical voting criteria.

Types of electoral systems

Plurality system

Multiple voting is a system in which the candidate with the highest number of votes wins, without having to obtain the majority of votes. In cases where there is only one post to be completed, it is known as first-past-the-post; This is the second most common electoral system for national legislatures, with 58 countries using it to elect their parliaments, most of which are current or former colonies or territories of British or American origin. It is also the second most used system for presidential elections and is used in 19 countries. In cases where there are more offices to be elected, more commonly in cases of electorates with more than one member, the plurality vote is called a block vote or plurality in general.

This takes two main forms; in one form, the voters have as many votes as there are seats and can vote for any candidate, regardless of the party; this is used in eight countries. There are variations in this system, such as a limited vote, in which voters are assigned fewer votes than the seats to choose from and a single non-transferable vote, in which voters can only vote for a candidate in a constituency with more than one member, with the candidates who received the highest number of votes declared the winners.

This system is used in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pitcairn Islands and Vanuatu. In the other main form of voting bloc, also known as a party block, voters can only vote for multiple candidates of a single party. This is used in five countries as part of mixed systems. The Dowdall system, a variation of multi-member constituencies on the Borda account, is used at Nauru for parliamentary elections and voters rank the candidates according to the number of seats in their constituency. The votes of the first preferences are counted as whole numbers; the second preference of votes divided by two, the third preference for three; this continues in the lowest possible rankings. The amounts obtained by each candidate are added to determine the winner.

Majority system

The majority vote is a system in which the candidates must receive the majority of votes to be elected, even if in some cases only a plurality is needed in the last control round if no candidate can reach the majority.

There are two main forms of majority systems, one using a single ranked voting round and the other using two or more rounds. Both are used primarily for groups of a single member. The majority vote can be made in a single round using the instantaneous outflow vote If not all voters use all their favorite votes, the count can continue until there are two candidates, at which time the winner obtained the highest number of votes.

A modified form of IRV is the contingent vote in which voters do not classify all candidates, but have a limited number of preference votes. If no candidate has a majority in the first round, all candidates are excluded, except the first two, with the highest number of votes remaining for the excluded candidates and then added to the totals to determine the winner. This system is used in the presidential elections in Sri Lanka and voters are allowed to give three preferences.

The other main form of the majority system is the two-round system, which is the most common system used for presidential elections around the world, which is used in 88 countries. It is also used in 20 countries to elect the legislature. [1] If no candidate obtains the majority of votes in the first round of voting, a second round is held to determine the winner. In most cases, the second round is limited to the first two candidates of the first round, although in some elections more than two candidates may choose to participate in the second round; in these cases, the second round is decided by the plural vote.

Some countries use a modified two-round system, such as Ecuador, where a presidential candidate is declared the winner if he receives 40% of the votes and is 10% more than his nearest rival, or Argentina , where the system is known as ballotage. A complete vote is not limited to two rounds, but sees the last candidate eliminated in the voting round.

Due to the high potential number of shifts, this system is not used in any of the major popular elections, but is used to elect parliamentary presidents in several countries and members of the Swiss Federal Council. In some formats, there may be several rounds without eliminating any candidates until the candidate obtains the majority, a system used in the United States Electoral College.

Proportional system

Proportional representation is the most used electoral system for national legislatures, with the parliaments of over eighty countries elected by various forms of the system. The proportional representation of the list of parties is the most common electoral system and is used by 80 countries and involves voters who vote for a list of candidates proposed by a party. In closed list systems, voters have no influence on candidates presented by the party, but in open list systems voters can vote in favor of the party list and influence the order in which they will be assigned. places for candidates.

In some countries, particularly in Israel and the Netherlands, elections are conducted using "pure" proportional representation, with votes counted nationally before allocating seats to the parties. However, in most cases several multi-member constituencies are used instead of a single national constituency, which provides an element of geographic representation. However, this could result in the distribution of posts that do not reflect the total national votes.

As a result, some countries have grading posts to be allocated to parties whose total posts are lower than their proportion of the national vote. In addition to the electoral threshold, the minimum percentage of votes that a party must obtain to win seats, there are several methods for calculating the allocation of seats in proportional systems, generally divided into two main types; higher average and the larger rest.

The highest average systems provide for the division of votes received by each party from a series of divisors, producing figures that determine the allocation of seats; Examples include the D'Hondt method or the Webster / Sainte-Laguë method. In the remaining larger systems, the voting shares of the party are divided by the quota (obtained by dividing the number of votes by the number of available seats). This usually leaves some unassigned seats, which are assigned to the parties based on the largest fractions of places they have left. Examples of the remaining major systems are the Hare share, the Droop share, the Imperial share and the Hagenbach-Bischoff tax.

The only transferable vote (STV) is another form of proportional representation, but is obtained by voters who classify candidates in a constituency of several preference members rather than vote for a party list; it is used in Malta and in the Republic of Ireland. Mixed systems In several countries, mixed systems are used to elect the legislature. These include the parallel vote and the proportional representation of mixed members. In parallel voting systems, which are used in 20 countries, there are two methods by which members of a legislature are elected; a part of the members is elected by majority or majority in the constituencies of a single member and the other party in proportional representation. The results of the constituency voting have no effect on the proportional voting result.

A parallel form of voting, Scorporo, was used in Italy from 1993 to 2006. proportional representation of mixed members in use in eight countries, also considering the membership of the electoral constituency and proportional methods, but the results of proportional voting are adequate to balance the seats won in the constituency to ensure that the parties have a number of seats proportional to their shared vote. This can lead to overlapping seats, where the parties get more seats in the electoral system that qualifies based on their share of the vote. Variations of this include the system of additional members and the alternative voting Plus, in which the electors classify the candidates and the other of the electoral districts of several elected members in a proportional list of parts.

Additional functionality

Some electoral systems have a majority bonus system to ensure that a party or coalition gets a majority in the legislature, or to give the party receiving the majority of votes a clear advantage in terms of the number of seats. In Greece, the party receiving the majority of votes is assigned 50 additional seats, while in Italy the party or coalition with the highest number of votes is guaranteed by a minimum of 340 seats in the Chamber of Deputies of 630 seats.

San Marino has a modified two-shift system, which provides a second round of voting with the two main parties or coalitions if there is no majority in the first round. The winner of the second round is guaranteed 35 places in the Grand General Council of 60 seats In Uruguay, the president and members of the General Assembly are elected in one vote, known as simultaneous double voting. The voters vote for one vote, voting for the presidency, the senatorial and the chamber of deputies of that party. This system has also been used previously in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.

Primary elections

Primary elections are a feature of some electoral systems, either as a formal part of the electoral system or informally through the election of individual political parties as a method for selecting candidates, as in the case of Italy. The primary elections limit the risk of dividing the vote by guaranteeing the candidacy of a single party.

In Argentina they form part of the electoral system and take place two months before the main elections; No party receiving less than 1.5% of the votes is not allowed to take part in the main elections. In the United States there are primary elections, both partisan and non partisan.

Indirect elections

Some elections have an indirect electoral system, for which there is no popular vote, or the popular vote is only one stage of the election; In these systems, the final grade is usually taken from an electoral college. In several countries, such as Mauritius or Trinidad and Tobago, the legislator chooses the position of president. In others like India, the vote is taken by an electoral college composed of the national legislature and the state legislatures.

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In the United States, the president is indirectly elected through a two-stage process; A popular vote in each state chooses members of the constituency that in turn elects the president. This may result in a situation where a candidate receiving a majority of votes at the national level does not win the electoral college vote, as happened more recently in 2000 and 2016.

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Political Electoral Systems. (2018, October 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from
“Political Electoral Systems.” GradesFixer, 08 Oct. 2018,
Political Electoral Systems. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Oct. 2023].
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