Majority bonus system
|Part of the Politics series|
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.
Benito Mussolini was the first politician to enact a law which would automatically give a vast majority of 66% of assembly seats to the winning party, so as to ensure his victory in the Italian election of 1924 and thus establishing a twenty-year dictatorship over the country. Despite this anti-democratic debut, the majority bonus system was used again after the restoration of the democracy, but within basic limits, awarding a number of seats which allows government stability, but which is not large enough to allow a single party to promulgate constitutional changes. It was used in the Italian local election during the 1950s, the majority bonus system was reintroduced in Italy for local elections in 1993, and at national level in 2005, replacing the additional member system. After a 2013 ruling from the Constitutional Court stating that unlimited bonuses are unconstitutional, a 40% minimum threshold for the assignment of the bonus has been established, together with a runoff ballot between the two most voted parties in the event that the threshold is not reached.
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. 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 shows how MBS is not proportional representation. Effectively, the system in use in Italy until 2013, assigning the jackpot regardless of the percentage of vote achieved by the largest party, has been judged as unconstitutional by the Italian Constitutional Court and has since been replaced by a two-round jackpot system.
Caciagli, Mario; Alan S. Zuckerman; Istituto Carlo Cattaneo (2001). Italian Politics: Emerging Themes and Institutional Responses. Berghahn Books. pp. 87–89.