Semi-proportional representation

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A semi-proportional voting system is a multi-winner voting system which allows representation of minorities, but does not reflect the strength of the competing political forces proportionally, mixing the principles of proportional representation and plurality voting.[1][2]

Semi-proportional systems[edit]

While most proportional representation systems are to some extent semi proportional due to thresholds, or split electoral regions, this article deals more with mixed systems, that are to an extent proportional but not designed to be as proportional as possible across an entire country.

The choice to use a semi-proportional voting system may be a deliberate attempt to find a balance between majority rule and proportional representation: semi-proportional systems can allow for fairer representation of those parties that have difficulty gaining individual seats while still keeping the possibility of one party gaining a majority when there is a landslide victory.

Because there are many measures of proportionality,[3][4] and because there is no objective threshold, opinions on what constitutes a semi-proportional method rather than a majoritarian or a fully proportional one, may differ.

Non-partisan systems[edit]

Methods where parties can only achieve proportionality by coordinating their voters are usually considered to be semi-proportional.[5] They are not majoritarian, since in the perfect case, the outcome will be proportional, but they are not proportional either, since such a perfect case requires a very high degree of coordination. Such methods include the single non-transferable vote and limited voting, the latter of which becomes less proportional the more votes each voter has. The cumulative voting also allows minority representation, concentrating votes over the number of candidates that every minor party thinks it can support.

This group of system are, at least technically, non-partisan. Surely, group of candidates can cohordinate their campaigns, and politically present themselves as party members, but there is no obligation for electors to respect these party links, and forms of panachage are usually possible.

Partisan systems[edit]

Other forms of semi-proportional representation are based, or at least use, party lists to work. Looking to the electoral systems effectively in use around the world, there are three general methods to reinforce the majority rule starting from basic PR mechanisms: parallel voting, majority bonuses, and extremely reduced constituency magniture. An additional member system may reinforce majorities if the proportion of compensatory seats is too low.

A majority bonus introduce a FPTP-like idea in multi-member constituencies. The bonus gives additional seats to the first party or alliance, to create a landslide victory as it happens in countries using the FPTP even if single-member constituencies are not in use. The majority bonus system was firstly introduced by Benito Mussolini to win the election of 1924, but it was later used in Italy again, with additional democratic limits, and then expanded in some neighbor countries like San Marino, Greece and France.

The most simple mechanism to reinforce major parties in PR system is a severely reduced constituency magniture, so to reduce the possibility for minor national parties to gain seats. If the Spanish electoral system is still considered a form of proportional representation, the binomial system used in Chile effectively establish by law a two-party rule over the country.

The last main group usually considered semi-proportional consists of parallel voting models. The system used for the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico since 1996 is considered a parallel voting system, modified by a list-seat ceiling (8%) for over-representation of parties. The "scorporo" system used for the Parliament of Italy from 1993 to 2005 and the electoral system for the National Assembly of Hungary since 1990 are also special cases.

As well, additional member systems where the additional members are not sufficient to balance the disproportionality of the original system can produce less than proportional results, especially in the National Assembly for Wales where only 33.3% of members are compensatory. The electoral system commonly referred to in Britain as the "additional member system" is also used for the Scottish Parliament, and the London Assembly, with generally proportional results.


  1. ^ Douglas J. Amy. "Semiproportional voting systems". Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Giovanni Sartori, Parties and Party Systems. A framework for analysis. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ P. Kestelman (June 2005). "Apportionment and Proportionality: A Measured View" (PDF). Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Barry R. Weingast; Donald A. Wittman (19 October 2006). The Oxford handbook of political economy. Oxford University Press. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-0-19-927222-8. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Semi-Proportional Electoral Methods". Retrieved 19 June 2011.