POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Proportional Representation

Proportional representation results in parliamentary seats being allocated to parties based on the percentage of the total vote they won in the election. Proportional representation is regarded as being more democratic that majority voting systems like first past the post. This is because every single vote cast in the election will count towards the number of seats a particular party ends up winning in the legislature.

There are a number of different methods of calculating the exact allocation of seats under proportional representation, each with the potential to yield slightly different results. The most common methods used are D'Hondt method, Hare-Niemeyer method or the Webster method.

Advantages of proportional representation 

Proportional allocation of seats incentivizes people to participate in elections because their vote is more likely to "count" compared to majority voting systems. Moreover, the system makes it easier for smaller parties to gain seats in the legislature, meaning a more diverse range of views is represented reflecting the diversity of opinion held by the electorate as a whole.

See also: Majority Vote, List Elections, First past the post , D'Honst method, Hare-Niemeyer method, Webster method

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