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Panachage (English: /ˌpænəˈʃɑːʒ/)[1] is the name given to a procedure provided for in several open-list variants of the party-list proportional representation system which gives voters more than one vote in the same ballot and allows them to distribute their votes between individual candidates from different party lists. It is used in elections at all levels in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, in congressional elections in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Honduras, as well as in local elections in a majority of German states and in French communes with under 1,000 inhabitants.

Among non-proportional systems, plurality-at-large voting, limited voting and cumulative voting can also allow individuals to distribute their votes between candidates from different parties.

Fictitious example[edit]

The Central Strelsau constituency in the Ruritanian Assembly of the Republic elects six members, and three lists, containing twenty-two candidates in total, are vying for its seats. There are 6,750 voters, and the voters can each select a maximum of six candidates.

Election results
Social Democratic Party National Consolidation League of Concerned Citizens
Candidate Votes Candidate Votes Candidate Votes
Alice Brown 1,407 Bob Jones 4,662 Sylvia Ambrosetti 3,901
Matt Wright 3,901 David "D-Dog" Ng 4,195 Sam Miller 4,662
Pranav Kapoor 3,213 Allison Cook 3,901 Pat Malkiewicz 1,214
Judy Bogart 3,213 Tricia Chapman 5,873 Rick Vogelman 2,217
Thomas McLeish 3,213 Nikki Jefferson 1,254 David Higgins 749
Maurice Vuong 2,725 Gene MacDonald 536 Duncan Bradshaw 329
Sean Stephens 1,867 Simon Levanshvili 2,087
Megan Vargas 5,455 Raymond Sullivan 905
SDP Total 24,994 NC Total 23,413 LCC Total 13,072
Election results
Party Quotients Seats
Social Democratic Party 24,994 12,497 8,331 6,249 4,999 4,166 3
National Consolidation 23,413 11,707 7,804 5,853 4,683 3,902 2
League of Concerned Citizens 13,072 6,536 4,357 3,268 2,614 2,179 1

The list totals mean that, on the basis of proportionality, the Social Democratic Party is entitled to three seats, National Consolidation two, and the League of Concerned Citizens one.

  • For the SDP, Megan Vargas and Matt Wright are elected first and second, and the tie for third place on the SDP list is broken in favor of the highest-ranked candidate: Pranav Kapoor. However, Megan Vargas – a non-political celebrity placed last on the list as a sign of endorsement – in the event declines election; accordingly, her place is taken by the next highest-ranked candidate: namely, Judy Bogart.
  • Tricia Chapman and Bob Jones are the two list members elected for National Consolidation.
  • Sam Miller is initially elected for the LCC, but also declines election – in this case with the intention of ensuring that his list's leading candidate, Sylvia Ambrosetti, gets a seat.

The effects that panachage can have on an election can be demonstrated simply by comparing the actual results with those that would have been obtained under a closed-list system:

Election results
Party Elected candidates
Elected by panachage Elected by closed list voting
Social Democratic Party Megan Vargas
Judy Bogart
Alice Brown 1,407
Matt Wright 3,901 Matt Wright 3,901
Pranav Kapoor 3,213 Pranav Kapoor 3,213
National Consolidation Tricia Chapman 5,873 Bob Jones 4,662
Bob Jones 4,662 David "D-Dog" Ng 4,195
League of Concerned Citizens Sam Miller
Sylvia Ambrosetti
Sylvia Ambrosetti 3,901

Only three of the candidates who would have been elected under the closed list were also initially elected under panachage, and out of the two who declined election, only one was replaced by a presumptive closed-list electee.


Until an 1899 reform in favour of an open-list electoral system and the parliamentary elections in 1900, panachage was possible in provincial and parliamentary elections in Belgium, and candidates were placed on lists in alphabetical order of name.[2] Municipal elections were still held under the panachage system until the 5 July 1976 Law. This change was adopted before the first elections (October 1976) following the 1976 communes merger which reduced the number of Belgian communes from 2,359 to 596. Law proposals were introduced in 1995 and 1999 by senators from the Volksunie to reinstitute it, but they were never put to votes.[3][4]


In the Ecuadorian parliamentary elections, voters have as many votes as there are seats to be distributed, and they may use them to support candidates across party lines (they may also give several votes to a single candidate).[5]

El Salvador[edit]

El Salvador adopted an open list proportional system for the 2012 legislative elections, and introduced panachage for the 2015 elections: "For the first time, voters will be able to select individual candidates from any party rather than being forced to vote for a single party with an established list of candidates. Voters can still opt to simply choose a party.".[6][7][8]


Since 2014, voters in municipal elections in communes having fewer than 1,000 inhabitants (at the time: 26,879 communes, representing 73.5% of the total) – the upper population limit before that had been 3,500 – have been able to cast ballot papers indicating their preference for candidates either listed or named individually, and, in addition, cross out if they so wish the names of one or more candidates. The number of candidates selected by a voter must not, however, exceed the total number of available seats.[9] Until a reform which came into effect on 17 May 2013, voters had been able to write in the names of other, unlisted eligible citizens; however, all nominations must now be filed in advance with the prefecture or sub-prefecture and voters may no longer add names on the day.[10]


Out of sixteen federal states, two (Bremen and Hamburg) adopted electoral systems including panachage (Panaschieren) for state and municipal elections, and eleven others only for municipal elections, the three exceptions being Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland. Except in Schleswig-Holstein, in the states allowing panachage the voter may also give more than one vote for one or several candidate(s) (Kumulieren).[11][12]


Panachage within an open list proportional system has been used since 2005 for legislative elections in Honduras.[13]


The Italian concept of voto disgiunto is not equivalent to the panachage concept as understood in other countries. It means the possibility at regional and municipal (in communes over 15,000 inhabitants), but not provincial, elections to vote for a list or a specific candidate on it (whose name has to be written on the ballot paper by the voter) and for a candidate to the presidency or the mayorship that may be on another list.


For legislative elections in Liechtenstein there are two constituencies, Oberland and Unterland. The first has 15 seats, the second ten. The voter must use only one ballot paper from one party, and has the right to vote for as many candidates as there are seats to be filled, which means either all the candidates on the party list or some of them and other, handwritten under "deleted" candidates. Using highlighters, writing comments on the ballot paper or putting more than one ballot paper in the ballot envelope voids the vote.[14]


In all proportional elections,[15] such as those for the Chamber of Deputies, a voter in Luxembourg has as many votes as there are seats to be filled in that constituency and can vote either for candidates on the same list or for candidates on different lists.[16]


In Switzerland, as well as distributing their votes between different lists (panachage), voters may add names to lists and/or delete one or more of the names appearing on others; this is a system that was also used in Austria until the 1970s.[17]


  1. ^ "Merriam-Webster – panachage". Retrieved 14 Aug 2019.
  2. ^ (in French) "Evolution de la législation électorale", SPF Intérieur - Direction des Elections (Federal Public Service Interior - Elections Office), 26 January 2010
  3. ^ (in French) Jan Loones, Bert Anciaux, Christiaan Vandenbroeke, "Proposition de loi modifiant la loi électorale communale et instaurant le vote panaché", Senate of Belgium, 13 July 1995
  4. ^ (in French) Vincent Van Quickenborne, "Proposition de loi modifiant la loi électorale communale et instaurant le vote panaché", Senate of Belgium, 24 November 1999
  5. ^ Craig Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America, Routledge, 2015 ISBN 9781317348825 p.339
  6. ^ George Rodriguez, "Voters head to the polls in El Salvador to elect legislators, mayors", Tico Times, 28 February 2015
  7. ^ (in Spanish) "Papeletas para las elecciones 2015 (reproduction of ballot papers and explanation of the new voting system)", Tribunal Supremo Electoral
  8. ^ Matthew S. Shugart, "El Salvador joins the panachage ranks, president’s party holds steady", Fruits and Votes, 8 March 2015
  9. ^ (in French) "LOI n° 2013-403 du 17 mai 2013 relative à l'élection des conseillers départementaux, des conseillers municipaux et des conseillers communautaires, et modifiant le calendrier électoral" [LAW No. 2013-403 of 17 May 2013 concerning the election of departmental councilors, city councilors and community councilors and amending the electoral calendar] (in French). Legifrance. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2014..
  10. ^ (in French) "Code électoral – Article L255-4" [Election Code – Article L255-4] (in French). Legifrance. 23 March 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014..
  11. ^ (in German) Martin Fehndrich, Panaschieren,, 19 March 2009
  12. ^ (in German) Interactive vote simulation, 2016
  13. ^ "Honduras", Election Passport
  14. ^ (in German) Wie wählen, Information und Kommunikation der Regierung (a Liechtenstein's Government website), 2013
  15. ^ some communes use the system of relative majority, cf. Local Elections, (The official presentation website of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), Updated 28 April 2015
  16. ^ IFES Election Guide: Country Profile - Luxembourg. Retrieved on 23 April 2008.
  17. ^ "Splitting the vote Archived 2015-04-07 at the Library of Congress Web Archives", "Accumulating Archived 2015-04-07 at the Library of Congress Web Archives" and "Deleting a name Archived 2015-04-07 at the Library of Congress Web Archives", The Election Dictionary, on the website of the Swiss Parliament