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Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Systems of Voting

Majority System (to ensure winner receives 50%+) =

Proportional (seats reflect proportion of votes cast) =
Hybrid (mixture of the systems, including plurality) =

Voting system How it works Advantages Disadvantages

Alternative Vote System Voters have the opportunity to Voters don’t have to indicate Results tend to favour centre
rank candidates in order of second preferences parties – because ‘winning
preference. If candidate candidate isn’t always first
receives 50%+ of votes then Retains constituency choice but almost always is
he/she is instantly elected. representation as one second choice’ (Roberts)
Otherwise, candidate with candidate is elected for each
lowest number of first constituency. Ensures winning
preferences is eliminated and candidate has 50+ of vote,
his/her second preferences hence ‘majority system’.
redistributed to other
candidates. Process continues
until one candidate has more
than 50% of vote.

Used in Australian House of


Supplementary Vote System Voters have two preference Retains constituency

votes. Candidates with 50+ in representation. Produces
first ballot win, otherwise only 2 stronger govts. (than PR).
candidates with highest Simpler than AV. Avoids third
number of preference votes place candidates coming
remain. Second preference through on second ballot.
votes are added to the votes
for these two candidates and
the one with the most votes

Used in London Mayoral

Elections of 2000
Second Ballot System Voting takes place on 2 Provides choice – voters can Not proportional & does not
separate occasions. If one vote for their favourite party in ensure fair representation for
candidate wins 50%+, he/she first round and then candidate smaller parties
wins. Otherwise there is a in the second when they know
second ballot later, when either the result
Encourages pacts between
the candidates with a threshold
quota of votes or the top two Votes aren’t wasted because
parties to allow stronger
candidates are allowed to voters can make a second candidates a better chance
stand choice

Used in French Presidential

elections (threshold 12.5%)
List System Closed List system General advantages of PR Links between MP and
Designed for multi-member systems: constituencies are weaker
constituencies – in effect a Party representation mirrors because constituencies are
whole city, region or even support for party across the multi-member
country could be one country
constituency Provides voters with greater
Each party submits a list of choice
Less accountability to
candidates for a constituency, electors as a consequence
but electorate only vote for
party. Seats allocated to each Mid-term vacancies can be Lists are drawn up by
party in accordance with filled by next candidate down in parties, voters have very
proportion of vote received. list without holding another little choice
Then candidates allocated to election
seats, working down the list
from the top.
Open List system: electorate
can express preference for

Used in many countries

already, e.g. Sweden, Norway,
Belgium, Spain and Finland
and for European Parliament

Single Transferable Vote Country is divided into multi- All the advantages of Difficult to hold by-elections, so
member constituencies. Parties proportionality above different versions of STV used
can offer as many candidates or AV system, or refer back to
as there are seats, eg. 2 seats Greater element of choice for original ballot and give the seat
for Maidstone, so two constituents as they can to the next most popular
candidates possible per party choose between candidates candidate
To win a seat, candidates must and rank them in order of
reach a set quota (no. of votes preference Very complex
cast divided by no. of seats
available +1, plus one). If They can also just vote for one
candidate reaches quota on or two candidates if they
first preferences then he/she is choose
elected. Surplus votes are
redistributed proportionally to
other candidates. If a seat is
empty because there are no
one has reached the quota, the
candidate with the least 1st
preferences is eliminated and
his/her votes redistributed

Used in Republic of Ireland,

Australia (Senate) and in
N.Ireland (Euro. Elections,
Additional Member System System devised by Allies Share of seats won by a party Creates 2 types of reps. –
following occupation of in a constituency is compared elected candidates and
Germany after WWII with proportion of vote overall appointed from regional lists.
Currently used in Germany & and discrepancies are
Hungary, Welsh & Scottish corrected by allocation of seats Creates larger constituencies
Assemblies from regional party lists. than under current system
Mixture of plurality system and However, parties need to cross
PR system. Electorate have 2 a ‘threshold’, e.g. 3
votes, 1 for constituency constituency seats or 5% of
candidate & 1 for party. party vote.
Constituency candidates votes
by simple majority, remaining Retain best features of plurality
seats allocated according to and majority systems –
regional party lists on a constituency based
proportional basis. representation, parties are
allocated seats more fairly
Alternative Vote Plus As above, but constituency Best features of plurality & Creates 2 types of
System seats allocated on preference majority systems – local representatives as above
vote as with alternative vote MPs, fair representation in
system terms of seats in Parliament The proportion of seats used to
& clarity top up the total number of
seats allocated effects the
proportionality of the system. If
less than 50%+ then the
system lacks proportionality
(Roberts, p.226)