Licchavi Lyceum


Licchavi Lyceum

What is meant by representation? Describe the different forms of proportional representation system.

Representation in the context of political systems refers to the process by which elected individuals or groups act as proxies for the citizens or constituents who have chosen them to make decisions and formulate policies on their behalf. Representation ensures that the interests, preferences, and concerns of the population are reflected in the government’s actions and decisions. It is a fundamental principle of democratic governance. There are different forms of representation, including the proportional representation system, which seeks to ensure a fair and accurate reflection of the electorate’s choices in the composition of legislative bodies. Here are the main forms of proportional representation:

  1. List Proportional Representation (List PR): In this system, political parties present lists of candidates to the voters. Voters cast their ballots for a political party rather than individual candidates. Seats in the legislative body are allocated to parties based on the proportion of the vote they receive. The order of candidates on the party list determines who is elected. List PR is used in various countries, including Germany and Israel.
  2. Single Transferable Vote (STV): STV is a preferential voting system that allows voters to rank individual candidates on the ballot in order of preference. It is often used in multi-member constituencies or districts. Candidates who reach a predefined quota of first-preference votes are elected, and any surplus votes are transferred to voters’ second preferences. The process continues until all seats are filled. STV is used in countries like Ireland and Malta.
  3. Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) Representation: In MMP, voters typically cast two votes: one for a political party and one for an individual candidate in a single-member district. Seats in the legislative body are allocated proportionally to parties based on their share of the party-list vote. Additional seats may be allocated to ensure proportionality. This system is used in Germany and New Zealand.
  4. Parallel Voting: In this system, voters cast two separate ballots, one for an individual candidate in a single-member district and one for a political party. A portion of the seats is filled through the first-past-the-post system (winner-takes-all), while the remaining seats are allocated proportionally based on the party vote. Parallel voting is used in countries like Japan.
  5. Open List PR: This variation of list PR allows voters to express preferences for individual candidates within a party list. Seats are allocated based on the party’s overall share of the vote, but voters have some influence over the ranking of candidates within the party. Open list PR is used in some countries like Finland and Sweden.
  6. Closed List PR: In this system, voters have no influence over the ranking of candidates on a party list. The party determines the order of candidates. Seats are allocated solely based on the party’s share of the vote.

Proportional representation systems aim to ensure that the composition of the legislature reflects the diversity of political opinions within a society more accurately than winner-takes-all systems, such as first-past-the-post. They are designed to reduce the likelihood of wasted votes and promote fair representation for minority parties and groups. However, the specific form of proportional representation used can vary by country and region, leading to different variations and outcomes in practice.