Indirect election

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An indirect election is an election in which voters do not choose between candidates for an office, but elect people who then choose. It is one of the oldest forms of elections, and is used by many countries for heads of state (such as presidents), cabinets, heads of government (such as prime ministers), and/or upper houses. It is also used for some supranational legislatures.

Positions that are indirectly elected may be chosen by a permanent body (such as a parliament) or by a special body convened solely for that purpose (such as an electoral college).

In nearly all cases the body that controls the executive branch (such as a cabinet) is elected indirectly. This includes the cabinets of most parliamentary systems; members of the public elect the parliamentarians, who then elect the cabinet. Upper houses, especially in federal republics, are often indirectly elected, either by the corresponding lower house or cabinet. Similarly, supranational legislatures can be indirectly elected by constituent countries' legislatures or executive governments.

Examples[edit]

Examples of indirect election are found in many countries.

  • Some examples of indirectly-elected upper houses include:
  • the German Bundesrat, where voters elect the Landtag members, who then elect the state government, which then appoints its members to the Bundesrat
  • In France, election to the upper house of Parliament, the Sénat, is indirect. Electors (called "Grands électeurs") are locally elected representatives.
  • The Indian Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) is indirectly elected, largely by state legislatures; Manmohan Singh was a member of the Rajya Sabha but chosen by the majority party in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) as the prime minister in 2004; as such, Singh as prime minister had never won a direct or popular election; introduced as a "technocrat"
  • The United States Senate was indirectly elected by state legislatures until, after a number of attempts over the previous century, the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1913.
  • In some cases, most officials, including most members of legislatures – national and sub-national – may be regarded as elected indirectly, because they are pre-selected by political parties. This kind of system is typified by the United States, at both the federal and state levels. That is primary elections and/or caucuses are responsible for choosing candidates, whose pre-selection is ratified by a party convention.

Some examples of indirectly elected supranational legislatures include: the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe, OSCE, the WEU and NATO – in all of these cases, voters elect national parliamentarians, who in turn elect some of their own members to the assembly. The same applies to bodies formed by representatives chosen by a national government, e.g. the United Nations General Assembly – assuming the national governments in question are democratically elected in the first place.

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