Voting system

A voting system or electoral method is a formalized method to set for an election,

  • Which option to choose will be submitted to the electorate and
  • As can be inferred from the valid votes, are to be awarded to that candidate offices.

Electoral systems are used in sports, for example, in politics, in clubs and at the award ceremony.

Important electoral systems are the majoritarian and proportional representation. They are available in numerous variations. In Switzerland and in some literature one speaks of Majorz and proportional representation. - A combination of both systems is the personalized proportional elections to the German Bundestag.


Electoral systems can favor or discriminate against individual parties. When it comes to the debate on electoral issues, the parties therefore argue often according to their own interest " option is also power law ". As was discussed in 1948/49, in West Germany on the voting system for the Bundestag, the CDU / CSU was a majoritarian system, the FDP, however, for a system of proportional representation, because as a small party would have probably suffered serious disadvantages in a majoritarian system. However, it must always be borne in mind that the electoral system is only one factor in the formation of party systems. Duverger's law, according to which a majority voting system can consist of only two parties can at best be an educated guess - which was often refuted in reality.

A voting system is judged by what objective functions it accommodates. These objective functions can be:

  • Proportionality and representation: The electoral system should reflect the will of voters undistorted. All votes should be equal not only in the count, but also in the success value.
  • Concentration or stability: The electoral system is the formation of a stable government, through the enforcement of the majority of a party ( or solid party alliance ) ( "manufactured majority" ) to make sure. The electorate should decide so directly through the formation of the government, not the parties. Their negotiations after the election
  • Simplicity: A system that is not understood by most voters can lead to voting which do not conform to the will of voters.

Especially the first two objective functions are in conflict. In society, many political ideas live together who want to be represented by parties in parliament; thus created the diversity of the parties makes it difficult to form a government. The majority choice corresponds to the objective function of stable government formation (concentration), the proportional representation of representation.

Traditionally used to describe electoral systems either as majority voting, proportional representation or mixed (or: combined ) system. Speaking of majority voting, we mean commonly the plurality voting in single-member constituencies, in which the so-called pure proportional representation proportional representation. One can think of it as the two poles, and imagine the same axis: In this form of majority voting, the country is divided into as many constituencies as there will be seats in parliament. A candidate is elected per constituency. In the pure proportional representation, the whole country is one constituency; there must be distributed in this more seats, one uses to electoral lists of the various parties. Between the two extremes, there are systems in which the country is divided into a number of multi-member districts. This classification of electoral systems does not necessarily correspond to that according to the objective function.

Typology Nohlen

Dieter Nohlen shares the electoral systems in five majority and five proportional representation systems, in which he emphasizes that there is still possible to find other systems that can not be readily assigned to these ten types.

Majority electoral systems:

  • Relative majority vote in single-member constituencies, for example in the UK
  • Absolute majority vote in single-member constituencies, for example in France
  • Majority vote with minority representation, such as single nontransferable vote ( SNTV )
  • Majority voting in small multi -member constituencies
  • Majority voting with proportional supplementary list, including a segmented electoral system as the grave electoral system

Proportional representation systems, also after Nohlen:

  • Pure proportional representation, for example in the Netherlands
  • Proportional representation in ( relatively large ) multi -member constituencies, for example in Spain
  • Compensatory proportional representation with restrictive clause
  • Personalized proportional representation with restrictive clause, for example, in Germany
  • Transferable Einzelstimmgebung, Single Transferable Vote (STV)

Election procedures

This method can also be used for the simultaneous selection of multiple equal mandate holders; This is the special case in which rank is unused. The occupation of a single office is another special case; this is applicable, for example, in the majority vote and the election of a mayor. ( Even where the description of the election process says the method serves to determine a single winner, you can see the penultimate than goers at No. 2. )

  • Single - winner voting systems: Vote by mere designation of candidates: Elected by relative majority: the number of votes determines the rank
  • Choice with quorum (often " more than half the votes " ), usually with runoff is not reached
  • Selection by approval ( Approval Voting )
  • Veto - choice (anti- Plurality voting )
  • Borda count
  • Bucklin - election
  • Coombs - election
  • Dodgson - election
  • Instant Runoff Voting
  • Hare - Niemeyer method
  • D' Hondt method, equivalent to the Hagenbach -Bischoff method
  • Sainte- Laguë method
  • Hill - Huntington method
  • Dean procedure
  • Adams methods
  • Penrose process
  • Double Pukelsheim