Majority bonus system

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The majority bonus system (MBS) is a form of semi-proportional representation used in some European countries. Its feature is a majority bonus which gives to the party or to the joined parties with the most votes extra seats or representation in an elected body in order to allegedly assure government stability.

It is used in Greece and San Marino.


Even if the mechanisms establishing the party-list proportional representation are normally used to reflect quite the exact strength of the major parties of a country, there is no technically reason which obliges this final result. Basically in fact, multi-member constituencies can be used to result in any type of representation, even with huge dis-proportionated effects.

Benito Mussolini was the first politician to enact a law which would give automatically a vast majority of 66% of assembly seats to the winning party, so to ensure his victory in the Italian election of 1924 and establishing a twenty-year dictature over the country. Despite this anti-democratic debut, the majority bonus system was used again after the restoration of the democracy, even if some basic limits, basically a number of seats which allows government stability, but which does not allow constitutional changes. Firstly used in the Italian local election during the Fifties, the majority bonus system was reintroduced in Italy for local election in 1993, and at national level in 2005, replacing the additional member system.[1]

Following the Italian example, the MBS was adopted by other European countries, especially Greece and San Marino at national level, and France for its regional elections.


The MBS can be based on any form of mechanism used in party-list proportional representation, but a D'Hondt method is more likely for its attitude to rank seats in an exact order of election.

Basically, there are two different forms of majority bonus systems, with clearly different political results:

  • the bonus system adds a fixed number of seats to the winning party or alliance. In the Greek Parliament, where it is sometimes called reinforced proportionality, a sixth of the assembly seats are reserved to the winning party. In the Sicilian Parliament, a tenth of the assembly seats are reserved to the winning coalition. If this system always dis-proportionates the final result, it does not ensure government stability if the winners do not obtain sufficient proportional seats;
  • the jackpot system offers a fixed number of total seats to the winning party or alliance, independently by their relative votecast. In the Sammarinese Parliament, the winning alliance obtains the 58% of the total seats, eventual bonus seats for winners being deducted from the worst minority seats ranked using the D'Hondt method.

If the Jackpot system ensure the goal of the MBS, the Bonus system is more likely for its attitude to respect democratic limits. Effectively, the Jackpot system formerly in use in Italy has been judged as unconstitutional by the Italian Constitutional Court.[citation needed][dubious ] In the Italian election of 2013, the Democratic Party won 292 seats in the House using its 8,644,523 votes, so needing 29,604 preferences to obtain a seat, while its major opponent, The People of Freedom, won 97 seats with 7,332,972 votes, effectively needing 75,597 votes for a single seat. This data clearly show how incorrect is to speak about forms of proportional representation in countries using the MBS.


Caciagli, Mario; Alan S. Zuckerman; Istituto Carlo Cattaneo (2001). Italian Politics: Emerging Themes and Institutional Responses. Berghahn Books. pp. 87–89. 

  1. ^ Silvio Berlusconi's researchers saw that the centre-left local single candidates were more likely to the all electors, while centre-right electors were more fascinated by a strong national leader. Berlusconi so decided to eliminate single-member constituencies, and to introduce a national race at-large.