All electoral systems (including the present one) are proportional to some degree. The issue is how far should the system go towards proportionality in the light of other considerations.


In this system, the voter numbers the candidates in order of preference. At the count, the second and later preferences of the candidates with least votes are distributed to the remaining candidates until the final winner is elected.


> this system is claimed to result in the winner having a broader measure of support than in a simple majority system

> it retains the merits of a single member constituency


> it does not achieve a high degree of proportionality


In its simplest form, the list system means that the voter votes for a party rather than a particular candidate. Each party lists its candidates in its order of preference. The proportion of votes cast for each party determines the proportion of candidates from the list who are actually elected.

The lists can cover an entire country or smaller units, such as regions, but they must be much larger than single member constituencies for the system to work. In some countries there is a minimum percentage that a party must achieve before it gains any representation - in Germany (where the added members are elected from a list), it is 5%. This acts to prevent very small, perhaps extreme, parties gaining a foothold in the legislature.


> it can produce a very high degree of accuracy in a proportional sense

> it can also allow parties to ensure that a 'balanced' set of candidates are elected - for example, including an representative number of women, ethnic minority and other candidates.


> it eliminates the personal contact between elected MPs and constituents

> it puts too much power into the hands of the party bureaucracies which in effect can determine which candidates will be elected.

The list system is used in the Netherlands, Israel and for the added member part of the German elections. It is the system now used for elections to the European Parliament in Britain. A national list system was used for the recent elections in Iraq.


In this system, a half (or some other proportion) of all available seats are elected using the simple majority system (as in Britain); the remainder are allocated to each party to make the overall percentage of seats held as close as possible to the percentage of votes cast nationally.


> it retains the merits of single member constituencies

> it can achieve a high degree of proportionality


> it tends to give undue prominence to the smaller parties in coalition bargaining

> it creates two 'classes' of MPs

The added member system is used in Germany. It is also now used for the Scottish parliament and the Welsh and London Assemblies.


STV allows a high degree of individual voter choice, within multi-member constituencies, perhaps with six or eight seats.

Each voter can vote for as many candidates as they wish in the order of their own preference. To be elected, a candidate must reach a quota of votes (which can be calculated by a variety of formulae). The second and subsequent preferences of losing candidates are distributed to remaining candidates, as are any excess votes of those who reach the quota.


> it is argued that it can produce proportional results

> it avoids 'wasted' votes

> it also allows individual voters to select preferred candidates within parties and to choose the better candidates across parties


> it is relatively complex

> it dilutes of member-constituent contact

> it increases the probability of minority governments or coalitions

STV is used in Ireland and is favoured by the Liberal Democrats for this country.


This system has been proposed by the Jenkins Commission on Electoral Reform. It is similar to AMS, in that each voter votes twice:

> once to list candidates in order of preference in individual constituencies

> once to vote for a party or for a candidate on a party list in a county or city (comprising five or six constituencies).

80 or 85% of the Parliamentary seats (530 or 560) will be filled by successful candidates from constituencies; the remainder will be filled with top-up candidates from the party lists to make the county/city result more proportional to the overall votes cast.


> it retains single member constituencies

> it produces a more proportional result

> it minimises the likelihood of coalitions


> it is more complex than FPTP

> it creates two classes of MPs.