First-past-the-post voting

Last updated

Countries that primarily use a first-past-the-post voting system for national legislative elections Countries That Use a First Past the Post Voting System.png
Countries that primarily use a first-past-the-post voting system for national legislative elections

First-past-the-post voting (FPTP or FPP) [1] is a plurality voting system wherein voters cast a vote for a single candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins the election. Analogous systems for multi-winner contests are known as plurality block voting or "block voting" systems; both FPTP and block voting are "plurality" systems in that the winner needs only a plurality of the votes and not an absolute majority (greater than half). The term first-past-the-post is a metaphor from horse racing of the plurality-voted candidate winning such a race; the electoral system is formally called single-member plurality voting (SMP) when used in single-member districts, and informally called choose-one voting in contrast to ranked voting [2] or score voting. [3]


FPTP is one of the simplest electoral systems, and has been used to elect the House of Commons of England (and its successors for Great Britain and the United Kingdom) since the Middle Ages. Its use extends to former British colonies, most notably the United States, Canada, and India. It is used as the primary form of allocating seats for legislative elections in about a third of the world's countries, mostly in the English-speaking world, and is used to directly elect executive positions in many more. For legislative elections, a country using FPTP is divided into geographic constituencies that each elect one member to the legislature using the method.

Notwithstanding its simplicity and antiquity, there are several major drawbacks to FPTP. As a winner-take-all method, it often produces disproportional results, particularly when electing members of a legislature, in the sense that political parties do not get representation according to their share of the popular vote. This usually favours the largest party and parties with strong regional support to the detriment of smaller parties without a geographically concentrated base. Supporters of electoral reform are generally highly critical of FPTP because of this and point out other flaws, such as FPTP's vulnerability to gerrymandering, the high number of wasted votes and the chance of a majority reversal (i.e., the party winning the most votes getting fewer seats than the second largest party and losing the election). Throughout the 20th century many countries that previously used FPTP abandoned it in favour of other electoral systems, including the former British colonies of Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand (which now use STV, IRV + STV, and MMP respectively).

Some countries use FPTP alongside proportional representation in a parallel voting system, with the PR element not compensating for but added to the disproportionality of FPTP. Others use it in so-called compensatory mixed systems, such as part of mixed-member proportional representation or mixed single vote systems, which aim to counterbalance these. In some countries that elect their legislatures by proportional representation, FPTP is used to elect their head of state.


A first-past-the-post ballot for a single-member district. The voter must mark one (and only one). Plurality ballot.svg
A first-past-the-post ballot for a single-member district. The voter must mark one (and only one).

A first-past-the-post election entails a single winner, and a ballot on which voters may mark only one option from the list of candidates. Whichever candidate wins the greatest number, or plurality, of votes wins. In a legislative election, the polity is divided into any number of districts, or constituencies, each of which elect a representative to the legislature via FPTP.


Tennessee map for voting example.svg

Suppose that Tennessee is holding an election on the location of its capital. The population is concentrated around four major cities. All voters want the capital to be as close to them as possible. The options are:

The preferences of each region's voters are:

42% of voters
26% of voters
15% of voters
17% of voters
  1. Memphis
  2. Nashville
  3. Chattanooga
  4. Knoxville
  1. Nashville
  2. Chattanooga
  3. Knoxville
  4. Memphis
  1. Chattanooga
  2. Knoxville
  3. Nashville
  4. Memphis
  1. Knoxville
  2. Chattanooga
  3. Nashville
  4. Memphis

In FPTP, only the first preferences matter, and voters are allowed to mark only them on the ballot. As such, the votes would be counted as 42 per cent for Memphis, 26 for Nashville, 17 for Knoxville, and 15 for Chattanooga. Since Memphis has the most votes, it would win a FPTP election although the majority of voters would oppose it the most. In contrast, Condorcet methods would return Nashville  the actual capital of Tennessee whereas instant-runoff voting would return Knoxville.

Voting method criteria

Scholars rate voting methods using mathematically derived voting method criteria, which describe desirable features of a method. No ranked preference method can meet all the criteria, because some of them are mutually exclusive, as shown by results such as Arrow's impossibility theorem and the Gibbard–Satterthwaite theorem. [4]

The following criteria are passed or failed when FPTP is used in a single-winner contest:

Name of criterionExplanation/details
Yes check.svgMajority criterionThe majority criterion states that "if one candidate is ranked in first place by a majority (more than 50%) of voters, then that candidate must win." [5] First-past-the-post meets this criterion (though not the converse: a candidate does not need 50% of the votes in order to win)
X mark.svgMutual majority criterionThe mutual majority criterion states that "if a majority (more than 50%) of voters top-rank some k candidates, then one of those k candidates must win". First-past-the-post does not meet this criterion. [6]
X mark.svgCondorcet winner criterionThe Condorcet winner criterion states that "if a candidate would get a majority of the vote in a head-to-head competition no matter who they would be facing, they must win." First-past-the-post does not [7] meet this criterion.
X mark.svgCondorcet loser criterionThe Condorcet loser criterion states that "if a candidate would lose a head-to-head competition against every other candidate, then that candidate must not win the overall election". First-past-the-post does not [7] meet this criterion.
X mark.svgIndependence of irrelevant alternatives criterionThe independence of irrelevant alternatives criterion states that "the election outcome remains the same even if a candidate who cannot win decides to run." First-past-the-post does not meet this criterion.
X mark.svgIndependence of clones criterionThe independence of clones criterion states that "the election outcome remains the same even if an identical candidate who is equally-preferred decides to run." First-past-the-post does not meet this criterion. This makes it vulnerable to spoilers.
Yes check.svg Monotonicity criterion
Yes check.svg Consistency criterion
Yes check.svg Participation criterion
X mark.svg Reversal symmetry Reversal symmetry is a voting system criterion which requires that if candidate A is the unique winner, and each voter's individual preferences are inverted, then A must not be elected
Not applicable Later-no-harm Since plurality does not allow marking later preferences on the ballot at all, it is impossible to either harm or help a favorite candidate by marking later preferences, and so it trivially passes both Later-No-Harm and Later-No-Help. However, because it forces truncation, it shares some problems with methods that merely encourage truncation by failing Later-No-Harm. Similarly, though to a lesser degree, because it does not allow voters to distinguish between all but one of the candidates, it shares some problems with methods which fail Later-No-Help, which encourage voters to make such distinctions dishonestly.
Not applicable Later-no-help

The following criteria are passed or failed when FPTP is used to elect legislatures in particular:

Name of criterionExplanation/details
X mark.svgNo majority reversalAlthough the majority criterion is met for each constituency vote, it is not met when adding up the total votes for a winning party in a parliament.
X mark.svgProportional in theory
X mark.svg Proportional in practice
Yes check.svgProvides local representationStandard implementation of single-member plurality is based on local districts


The phrase first-past-the-post is a metaphor from British horse racing, where there is a post at the finish line [8] (though there is no specific percentage "finish line" required to win in this voting system, only being furthest ahead in the race).

FPTP is a plurality voting method, a plurality meaning the largest part of the whole, in contrast to majority , which generally means more than half of the whole. Under FPTP the candidate with the highest number (but not necessarily a majority) of votes is elected. Sometimes the term relative majority is used to refer to a plurality as opposed to an absolute majority meaning a (standard) majority. The word majority is also sometimes used to refer to the number of votes (or percentage of votes) a candidate won an election with: "Candidate A won the election with a 5000 vote majority" would mean Candidate got 5000 more votes than Candidate B, but could also mean Candidate A won 5000 votes in total, and won.

Even though FPTP is a type of plurality voting, it is categorised as a majoritarian system, even though it is not "majority voting" (like a two-round system is). This is because majoritarian representation (one of the 3 major types of electoral systems alongside proportional representation and mixed systems) is defined by the winner (of an electoral district) getting all the seats, and therefore all single-winner systems (such as FPTP) are majoritarian.

FPTP is primarily used in systems that use single-member electoral divisions. The multiple-member version of plurality voting is when each voter casts (up to) the same number of votes as there are positions to be filled, and those elected are the highest-placed candidates; this system is called the multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV) and is also known as plurality block voting.

When voters have only a single vote each, which is non-transferable, but there are multiple seats to be filled, that system is called the single non-transferable vote (SNTV). When voters have only a single vote each, which is a preferential vote and transferable if necessary, but there are multiple seats to be filled, that system is called the single transferable vote (STV). The multiple-round election (runoff voting) method most commonly uses the FPTP voting method in the second round. The first round, usually held according to SNTV rules, determines which candidates may progress to the second and final round. As usually only two candidates are in the second round, one or the other takes a majority of the votes. Thus, it is truly majoritarian.


Party distribution

A graph showing the difference between the popular vote (inner circle) and the seats won by parties (outer circle) at the 2015 UK general election First-past-the-post 2015.svg
A graph showing the difference between the popular vote (inner circle) and the seats won by parties (outer circle) at the 2015 UK general election

Perhaps the most striking effect of FPTP is the fact that the number of a party's seats in a legislature has nothing to do with its vote count in an election, only in how those votes were geographically distributed. This has been a target of criticism for the method, many arguing that a fundamental requirement of an election system is to accurately represent the views of voters. FPTP often creates "false majorities" by over-representing larger parties (giving a majority of the parliamentary/legislative seats to a party that did not receive a majority of the votes) while under-representing smaller ones. In Canada, majority governments have been formed due to one party winning a majority of the votes cast in Canada only three times since 1921: in 1940, 1958 and 1984. In the United Kingdom, 19 of the 24 general elections since 1922 have produced a single-party majority government. In all but two of them (1931 and 1935), the leading party did not take a majority of the votes across the UK.

In extreme cases, this can lead to a party receiving the plurality or even majority of total votes but still lose in legislative seats. This results in a situation called a majority reversal or election inversion. [9] [10] Famous examples of the second placed party (in votes nationally) winning a majority of seats include the elections in Ghana in 2012, in New Zealand in 1978 and in 1981 and in the United Kingdom in 1951. Famous examples of the second placed party (in votes nationally) winning a plurality of seats include the election in Canada in 2019 and 2021. Even when a party wins more than half the votes in an almost purely two-party-competition, it is possible for the runner-up to win a majority of seats. This happened in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 1966, 1998 and 2020 and in Belize in 1993. This need not be a result of malapportionment. Even if all seats represent the same number of votes, the second placed party (in votes nationally) can win a majority of seats by efficient vote distribution. Winning seats narrowly and losing elsewhere by big margins is more efficient than winning seats by big margins and losing elsewhere narrowly. For a majority in seats, it is enough to win a plurality of votes in a majority of constituencies. Even with only two parties and equal constituencies, to win a majority of seats just requires receiving more than half the vote in more than half the districts—even if the other party receives all the votes cast in the other districts—so just over a quarter of the votes of the whole is theoretically enough for a majority in the legislature. Where multiple parties split the vote in a district, as few as 18 percent of the vote is enough to take a seat in FPTP. [11] [12] And where multiple parties win seats, a minority position in the legislature (a party with much less members than half of the assembly) could have the largest block in the chamber and be set in a commanding position, although still needing majority support to pass a bill.

Under first-past-the-post, a small party may draw votes and seats away from a larger party that it is more similar to, and therefore give an advantage to one it is less similar to. For example, in the 2000 United States presidential election, the left-leaning Ralph Nader drew more votes from the left-leaning Al Gore than his opponent, leading to accusations that Nader was a "spoiler" for the Democrats. According to the political pressure group Make Votes Matter, FPTP creates a powerful electoral incentive for large parties to target similar segments of voters with similar policies. The effect of this reduces political diversity in a country because the larger parties are incentivised to coalesce around similar policies. [13] The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network describes India's use of FPTP as a "legacy of British colonialism". [14]

Duverger's law is an idea in political science which says that constituencies that use first-past-the-post methods will lead to two-party systems, given enough time. Economist Jeffrey Sachs explains:

The main reason for America's majoritarian character is the electoral system for Congress. Members of Congress are elected in single-member districts according to the "first-past-the-post" (FPTP) principle, meaning that the candidate with the plurality of votes is the winner of the congressional seat. The losing party or parties win no representation at all. The first-past-the-post election tends to produce a small number of major parties, perhaps just two, a principle known in political science as Duverger's Law. Smaller parties are trampled in first-past-the-post elections.

from Sachs's The Price of Civilization, 2011 [15]

However, most countries with first-past-the-post elections have multiparty legislatures (albeit with two parties larger than the others), the United States being the major exception. [16] There is a counter-argument to Duverger's Law, that while on the national level a plurality system may encourage two parties, in the individual constituencies supermajorities will lead to the vote fracturing. [17]

It has been suggested that the distortions in geographical representation provide incentives for parties to ignore the interests of areas in which they are too weak to stand much chance of gaining representation, leading to governments that do not govern in the national interest. Further, during election campaigns the campaigning activity of parties tends to focus on marginal seats where there is a prospect of a change in representation, leaving safer areas excluded from participation in an active campaign. [18] Political parties operate by targeting districts, directing their activists and policy proposals toward those areas considered to be marginal, where each additional vote has more value. [19] [20] [21]

This feature of FPTP has often been used by its supporters in contrast to proportional systems. In the latter, smaller parties act as 'kingmakers' in coalitions as they have greater bargaining power and therefore, arguably, their influence on policy is disproportional to their parliamentary size- this is largely avoided in FPTP systems where majorities are generally achieved. [22] FPTP often produces governments which have legislative voting majorities, [23] thus providing such governments the legislative power necessary to implement their electoral manifesto commitments during their term in office. This may be beneficial for the country in question in circumstances where the government's legislative agenda has broad public support, albeit potentially divided across party lines, or at least benefits society as a whole. However handing a legislative voting majority to a government which lacks popular support can be problematic where said government's policies favour only that fraction of the electorate that supported it, particularly if the electorate divides on tribal, religious, or urban–rural lines. There is also the perceived issue of unfair coalitions where a smaller party can form a coalition with other smaller parties and form a government, without a clear mandate as was the case in the 2009 Israeli legislative election where the leading party Kadima, was unable to form a coalition so Likud, a smaller party, managed to form a government without being the largest party. The use of proportional representation (PR) may enable smaller parties to become decisive in the country's legislature and gain leverage they would not otherwise enjoy, although this can be somewhat mitigated by a large enough electoral threshold. They argue that FPTP generally reduces this possibility, except where parties have a strong regional basis. A journalist at Haaretz noted that Israel's highly proportional Knesset "affords great power to relatively small parties, forcing the government to give in to political blackmail and to reach compromises"; [24] [25] Tony Blair, defending FPTP, argued that other systems give small parties the balance of power, and influence disproportionate to their votes. [26] Allowing people into parliament who did not finish first in their district was described by David Cameron as creating a "Parliament full of second-choices who no one really wanted but didn't really object to either." [27] Winston Churchill criticized the alternative vote system as "determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates." [28]

FPTP often results in strategic voting which has prevented extreme left and right-wing parties from gaining parliamentary seats. For example, PR systems such as the electoral system of Hungary have seen Fidesz (right-wing, populist party) win 135 seats in the 2022 Hungarian parliamentary election and has remained the largest party in Hungary since 2010. Since 2010, Fidesz has implemented anti-democratic reforms that now mean the European Parliament no longer qualifies Hungary as a full democracy. [29] On the other hand, the Constitution Society published a report in April 2019 stating that, "[in certain circumstances] FPTP can ... abet extreme politics, since should a radical faction gain control of one of the major political parties, FPTP works to preserve that party's position. ...This is because the psychological effect of the plurality system disincentivises a major party's supporters from voting for a minor party in protest at its policies, since to do so would likely only help the major party's main rival. Rather than curtailing extreme voices, FPTP today empowers the (relatively) extreme voices of the Labour and Conservative party memberships." [30] [31] Electoral reform campaigners have argued that the use of FPTP in South Africa was a contributory factor in the country adopting the apartheid system after the 1948 general election in that country. [32] [33] Leblang and Chan found that a country's electoral system is the most important predictor of a country's involvement in war, according to three different measures: (1) when a country was the first to enter a war; (2) when it joined a multinational coalition in an ongoing war; and (3) how long it stayed in a war after becoming a party to it. [34] [35] When the people are fairly represented in parliament, more of those groups who may object to any potential war have access to the political power necessary to prevent it. In a proportional democracy, war and other major decisions generally requires the consent of the majority. [35] [36] [37] The British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, and others, have argued that Britain entered the Iraq War primarily because of the political effects of FPTP and that proportional representation would have prevented Britain's involvement in the war. [38] [39] [40]

Tactical voting

To a greater extent than many others, the first-past-the-post method encourages "tactical voting". Voters have an incentive to vote for a candidate who they predict is more likely to win, as opposed to their preferred candidate who may be unlikely to win and for whom a vote could be considered as wasted. FPTP wastes fewer votes when it is used in two-party contests. But waste of votes and minority governments are more likely when large groups of voters vote for three, four or more parties as in Canadian elections. Canada uses FPTP and only two of the last seven federal Canadian elections (2011 and 2015) produced single-party majority governments. In none of them did the leading party receive a majority of the votes.

The position is sometimes summarised, in an extreme form, as "all votes for anyone other than the runner-up are votes for the winner." [41] This is because votes for these other candidates deny potential support from the second-placed candidate, who might otherwise have won. Following the extremely close 2000 U.S. presidential election, some supporters of Democratic candidate Al Gore believed one reason he lost to Republican George W. Bush is that a portion of the electorate (2.7%) voted for Ralph Nader of the Green Party, and exit polls indicated that more of them would have preferred Gore (45%) to Bush (27%). [42] This election was ultimately determined by the results from Florida, where Bush prevailed over Gore by a margin of only 537 votes (0.009%), which was far exceeded by the 97488 (1.635%) votes cast for Nader in that state.

In Puerto Rico, there has been a tendency for Independentista voters to support Populares candidates. This phenomenon is responsible for some Popular victories, even though the Estadistas have the most voters on the island, and is so widely recognised that Puerto Ricans sometimes call the Independentistas who vote for the Populares "melons", because that fruit is green on the outside but red on the inside (in reference to the party colors).

Because voters have to predict who the top two candidates will be, results can be significantly distorted:

Proponents of other voting methods in single-member districts argue that these would reduce the need for tactical voting and reduce the spoiler effect. Examples include preferential voting systems, such as instant runoff voting, as well as the two-round system of runoffs and less tested methods such as approval voting and Condorcet methods. Wasted votes are seen as those cast for losing candidates, and for winning candidates in excess of the number required for victory. For example, in the UK general election of 2005, 52% of votes were cast for losing candidates and 18% were excess votes—a total of 70% "wasted" votes. On this basis a large majority of votes may play no part in determining the outcome. This winner-takes-all system may be one of the reasons why "voter participation tends to be lower in countries with FPTP than elsewhere." [43]


The effect of a system based on plurality voting spread over many separate districts is that the larger parties, and parties with more geographically concentrated support, gain a disproportionately large share of seats, while smaller parties with more evenly distributed support gain a disproportionately small share. This is because in doing this they win many seats and do not 'waste' many votes in other areas. As voting patterns are similar in about two-thirds of the districts, it is more likely that a single party will hold a majority of legislative seats under FPTP than happens in a proportional system, and under FPTP it is rare to elect a majority government that actually has the support of a majority of voters. Because FPTP permits many wasted votes, an election under FPTP is more easily gerrymandered. Through gerrymandering, electoral areas are designed deliberately to unfairly increase the number of seats won by one party by redrawing the map such that one party has a small number of districts in which it has an overwhelming majority of votes (whether due to policy, demographics which tend to favour one party, or other reasons), and many districts where it is at a smaller disadvantage.[ citation needed ]

The British Electoral Reform Society (ERS) says that regional parties benefit from this system. "With a geographical base, parties that are small UK-wide can still do very well". [44]

On the other hand, minor parties that do not concentrate their vote usually end up getting a much lower proportion of seats than votes, as they lose most of the seats they contest and 'waste' most of their votes. [21]

The ERS also says that in FPTP elections using many separate districts "small parties without a geographical base find it hard to win seats". [44]

Make Votes Matter said that in the 2017 general election, "the Green Party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP (minor, non-regional parties) received 11% of votes between them, yet they shared just 2% of seats", and in the 2015 general election, "[t]he same three parties received almost a quarter of all the votes cast, yet these parties shared just 1.5% of seats." [45]

According to Make Votes Matter, in the 2015 UK general election UKIP came in third in terms of number of votes (3.9 million/12.6%), but gained only one seat in Parliament, resulting in one seat per 3.9 million votes. The Conservatives on the other hand received one seat per 34,000 votes. [45]

The winner-takes-all nature of FPTP leads to distorted patterns of representation, since it exaggerates the correlation between party support and geography.

For example, in the UK the Conservative Party represents most of the rural seats in England, and most of the south of England, while the Labour Party represents most of the English cities and most of the north of England. [46] This pattern hides the large number of votes for the non-dominant party. Parties can find themselves without elected politicians in significant parts of the country, heightening feelings of regionalism. Party supporters (who may nevertheless be a significant minority) in those sections of the country are unrepresented.

In the 2019 Canadian federal election Conservatives won 98% of the seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan with only 68% of the vote. The lack of non-Conservative representation gives the appearance of greater Conservative support than actually exists. [47] Similarly, in Canada's 2021 elections, the Conservative Party won 88% of the seats in Alberta with only 55% of the vote, and won 100% of the seats in Saskatchewan with only 59% of the vote. [48]

First-past-the-post within geographical areas tends to deliver (particularly to larger parties) a significant number of safe seats, where a representative is sheltered from any but the most dramatic change in voting behaviour. In the UK, the Electoral Reform Society estimates that more than half the seats can be considered as safe. [49] It has been claimed that members involved in the 2009 expenses scandal were significantly more likely to hold a safe seat. [50] [51]

However, other voting systems, notably the party-list system, can also create politicians who are relatively immune from electoral pressure (especially when using a closed-list).[ citation needed ]


FPTP is one of the simplest electoral systems, and alongside block voting has been used since ancient times. The House of Commons of England originated in the Middle Ages as an assembly representing the gentry of the counties and cities of the Kingdom, each of which generally sent two members of parliament (MPs). These two MPs were elected by block voting, although the by-elections that occurred between general elections were elected by FPTP. Starting in the 19th century and concluding with the Representation of the People Act 1948, constituencies to the House of Commons were all reduced to electing one MP each by FPTP.

The United States broke away from British rule in the late 18th century, and its constitution provides for an electoral college to elect its president. Despite original intentions to the contrary, by the mid-19th century this college had transformed into a de facto use of FPTP by the states' presidential elections. In any event, direct elections to the United States House of Representatives were conducted in FPTP, as were elections to the United States Senate both in the state legislatures and after they were made directly to the people. In Canada, elections to the House of Commons, and to provincial assemblies, have always been conducted with FPTP.

Criticism and replacement

Guelph Rally on Electoral Reform - National Day of Action for Electoral Reform - 11 Feb 2017 - 04.jpg
Make Votes Matter ! No to FPTP. Yes to PR. (51868539320).jpg
People campaigning against first-past-the-post and in favour of proportional representation

Non-plurality voting systems have been devised since at least 1299, when Ramon Llull came up with both the Condorcet and Borda count methods, which were respectively reinvented in the 18th century by the Marquis de Condorcet and Jean-Charles de Borda. More serious investigation into electoral systems came in the late 18th century, when several thinkers independently proposed systems of proportional representation to elect legislatures. The single transferable vote in particular was invented in 1819 by Thomas Wright Hill, and first used in a public election in 1840 by his son Rowland for the Adelaide City Council in Australia. STV saw its first national use in Denmark in 1855, and was reinvented several times in the late 19th century.

The Proportional Representation Society was founded in England in 1884 and began campaigning. STV was used to elect the British House of Commons's university constituencies between 1918 and their abolition in 1950.

Many countries which use FPTP have active campaigns to switch to proportional representation (e.g. UK [52] and Canada [53] ). Most modern democracies use forms of proportional representation. [54] In the case of the UK, the campaign to get rid of FPTP has been ongoing since at least the 1970s. [55] However, in both these countries, reform campaigners face the obstacle of large incumbent parties who control the legislature and who are incentivised to resist any attempts to replace the FPTP system that elected them on a minority vote.

Countries using FPTP/SMP

Heads of state elected by FPTP

Legislatures elected exclusively by FPTP/SMP

The following is a list of countries currently following the first-past-the-post voting system for their national legislatures. [56] [57]

Use of FPTP/SMP in mixed systems for electing legislatures

The following countries use FPTP/SMP to elect part of their national legislature, in different types of mixed systems.

Alongside block voting (fully majoritarian systems) or as part of mixed-member majoritarian systems (semi-proportional representation)

As part of mixed-member proportional (MMP) or additional member systems (AMS)

Subnational legislatures

Local elections

Former use

See also

Related Research Articles

Plurality voting refers to electoral systems in which a candidate who polls more than any other is elected. In systems based on single-member districts, it elects just one member per district and may also be referred to as first-past-the-post (FPTP), single-member plurality (SMP/SMDP), or single-choice (choose-one) voting. A system that elects multiple winners elected at once with the plurality rule and where each voter casts multiple X votes in a multi-seat district is referred to as plurality block voting. A semi-proportional system that elects multiple winners elected at once with the plurality rule and where each voter casts just one vote in a multi-seat district is known as single non-transferable voting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Proportional representation</span> Voting system that makes outcomes proportional to vote totals

Proportional representation (PR) refers to any type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to political divisions among voters. The essence of such systems is that all votes cast – or almost all votes cast – contribute to the result and are effectively used to help elect someone – not just a bare plurality or (exclusively) the majority – and that the system produces mixed, balanced representation reflecting how votes are cast.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Single transferable vote</span> Proportional representation ranked voting system

The single transferable vote (STV), sometimes known as proportional ranked choice voting (P-RCV), is a multi-winner electoral system in which each voter casts a single vote in the form of a ranked-choice ballot. Voters have the option to rank candidates, and their vote may be transferred according to alternate preferences if their preferred candidate is eliminated or elected with surplus votes, so that their vote is used to elect someone they prefer over others in the running. STV aims to approach proportional representation based on votes cast in the district where it is used, so that each vote is worth about the same as another. Formally, STV satisfies a fairness criterion known as proportionality for solid coalitions.

Single non-transferable vote or SNTV is an electoral system used to elect multiple winners. It is a generalization of first-past-the-post, applied to multi-member districts with each voter casting just one vote. Unlike FPTP, which is a single-winner system, in SNTV multiple winners are elected, typically in electoral districts; additionally, unlike FPTP, SNTV produces mixed representation and makes it unlikely for a single party to take all the seats in a city or a set area, which can happen under FPTP.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Additional-member system</span> Mixed electoral system with compensation

The additional-member system (AMS) is a mixed electoral system under which most representatives are elected in single-member districts (SMDs), and the other "additional members" are elected to make the seat distribution in the chamber more proportional to the way votes are cast for party lists. It is distinct from parallel voting in that the "additional member" seats are awarded to parties taking into account seats won in SMDs, which is not done under parallel voting.

Mixed-member proportional representation is a mixed electoral system in which votes are cast for both local elections and also for overall party vote tallies, which are used to allocate additional members to produce or deepen overall proportional representation.

Parallel voting is a type of mixed electoral system in which representatives are voted into a single chamber using two or more different systems, most often first-past-the-post voting (FPTP) with party-list proportional representation (PR). It is the most common form of mixed member majoritarian representation (MMM), which is why these terms are often used synonymously with each other. In some countries, parallel voting is known as the supplementary member (SM) system, while in academic literature it is sometimes called the superposition method within mixed systems.

Canada holds elections for legislatures or governments in several jurisdictions: for the federal (national) government, provincial and territorial governments, and municipal governments. Elections are also held for self-governing First Nations and for many other public and private organizations including corporations and trade unions. Municipal elections can also be held for both upper-tier and lower-tier governments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2007 Ontario electoral reform referendum</span> Canadian provincial referendum on establishing mixed member proportional representation

A referendum was held on October 10, 2007, on the question of whether to establish a mixed member proportional representation (MMP) system for elections to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The vote was strongly in favour of the existing plurality voting or first-past-the-post (FPTP) system.

BC-STV is the proposed voting system recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform in October 2004 for use in British Columbia, and belongs to the single transferable vote family of voting systems. BC-STV was supported by a majority of the voters in a referendum held in 2005 but the government had legislated that it would not be bound by any vote lower than 60 percent in favour. Because of the strong majority support for BC-STV, the government elected to stage a second referendum in 2009, but with increased public funding for information campaigns to better inform the electorate about the differences between the existing and proposed systems. The leadership of both the "yes" side and the "no" side were assigned by the government. The proposal was rejected with 60.9 percent voting against, vs. 39.1 percent in favour, in the 2009 vote.

The Politics of British Columbia involve not only the governance of British Columbia, Canada, and the various political factions that have held or vied for legislative power, but also a number of experiments or attempts at political and electoral reform.

Scotland uses different electoral systems for elections to Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and to local councils. A different system was also in use between 1999 and 2019 for United Kingdom elections to the European Parliament. Historically, only First Past the Post (FPTP) was used for all elections in Scotland, but this changed in 1999 both with the introduction of D'Hondt elections to the EU Parliament and the inception the same year of the devolved Scottish Parliament. Two of the devolved legislatures in the United Kingdom - the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd - use the Additional Members System (AMS). AMS has been used for every Scottish Parliament election since 1999, with the most recent being in 2021.

Plurality block voting, also known as plurality-at-large voting, bloc vote or block voting (BV) is a non-proportional voting system for electing representatives in multi-winner elections. Each voter may cast as many votes as the number of seats to be filled. The usual result when the candidates divide into parties is that the most popular party in the district sees its full slate of candidates elected in a seemingly landslide victory.

Electoral reform is a change in electoral systems which alters how public desires are expressed in election results.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electoral system</span> Method by which voters make a choice between options

An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Electoral systems are used in politics to elect governments, while non-political elections may take place in business, non-profit organisations and informal organisations. These rules govern all aspects of the voting process: when elections occur, who is allowed to vote, who can stand as a candidate, how ballots are marked and cast, how the ballots are counted, how votes translate into the election outcome, limits on campaign spending, and other factors that can affect the result. Political electoral systems are defined by constitutions and electoral laws, are typically conducted by election commissions, and can use multiple types of elections for different offices.

A majoritarian electoral system is an electoral system where the candidate with the most votes takes the seat using the winner-takes-all principle and in this way provides majoritarian representation. However, there are many electoral systems considered majoritarian based on different definitions, including types of at-large majoritarian representation such as block voting or party block voting, but district-based majoritarian systems such as first-past-the-post voting (FPTP/SMP). Where two candidates are in the running, the one with the most votes will have a majority, but where there are three or more candidates, it often happens that no candidate takes a majority of the votes.

Dual-member proportional representation (DMP), also known as dual-member mixed proportional, is an electoral system designed to produce proportional election results across a region by electing two representatives in each of the region’s districts. The first seat in every district is awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes, similar to first-past-the-post voting (FPTP). The second seat is awarded to one of the remaining district candidates so that proportionality is achieved across the region, using a calculation that aims to award parties their seats in the districts where they had their strongest performances.

A mixed electoral system or mixed-member electoral system combines methods of majoritarian and proportional representation (PR). The majoritarian component is usually first-past-the-post voting (FPTP/SMP), whereas the proportional component is most often based on party-list PR. The results of the combination may be mixed-member proportional (MMP), where the overall results of the elections are proportional, or mixed-member majoritarian, in which case the overall results are semi-proportional, retaining disproportionalities from the majoritarian component.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Italian electoral law of 2017</span>

The Italian electoral law of 2017, colloquially known by the nickname Rosatellum bis or simply Rosatellum after Ettore Rosato, the Democratic Party (PD) leader in the Chamber of Deputies who first proposed the new law, is a parallel voting system, which acts as a mixed electoral system, with 37% of seats allocated using a first-past-the-post electoral system and 63% using a proportional method, with one round of voting. The Chamber and Senate of the Republic did not differ in the way they allocated the proportional seats, both using the largest remainder method of allocating seats.

Mixed member majoritarian representation (MMM) is type of a mixed electoral system combining majoritarian and proportional methods, where the disproportional results of the majoritarian side of the system prevail over the proportional component. Mixed member majoritarian systems are therefore also as a type of semi-proportional representation, and are usually contrasted with mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) which aims to provide proportional representation via additional compensation ("top-up") seats.


  1. "First past the post". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  2. Shawn Griffiths (5 December 2018). "How ranked choice voting survives the 'one person, one vote' challenge". FairVote.
  3. "Comparing Voting Methods: A Report Card" . Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  4. David Austen-Smith and Jeffrey Banks, "Monotonicity in Electoral Systems", American Political Science Review, Vol 85, No 2 (Jun. 1991)
  5. Single-winner Voting Method Comparison Chart Archived 28 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine "Majority Favorite Criterion: If a majority (more than 50%) of voters consider candidate A to be the best choice, then A should win."
  6. Kondratev, Aleksei Y.; Nesterov, Alexander S. (2020). "Measuring Majority Power and Veto Power of Voting Rules". Public Choice. 183 (1–2): 187–210. arXiv: 1811.06739 . doi:10.1007/s11127-019-00697-1. S2CID   53670198.
  7. 1 2 Felsenthal, Dan S. (2010) Review of paradoxes afflicting various voting procedures where one out of m candidates (m ≥ 2) must be elected. In: Assessing Alternative Voting Procedures, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.
  8. Tréguer, Pascal (11 May 2019). "origin of 'first past the post' (as applied to a voting system)".
  9. Geruso, Michael; Spears, Dean; Talesara, Ishaana (5 September 2019). "Inversions in US Presidential Elections: 1836-2016". American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 14 (1): 327–357. doi:10.3386/w26247.
  10. Miller, Nicholas R. "Election Inversions By Variants of the U.S. Electoral College". Department of Political Science. UMBC. Archived from the original on 18 July 2021. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  11. "33rd Dail general election results" (PDF). Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  12. "Election 2014 councillor poll by poll results" (PDF). Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  13. "First Past the Post". Make Votes Matter. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  14. "India – First Past the Post on a Grand Scale". ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  15. Sachs, Jeffrey (2011). The Price of Civilization. New York: Random House. p. 107. ISBN   978-1-4000-6841-8.
  16. Dunleavy, Patrick; Diwakar, Rekha (2013). "Analysing multiparty competition in plurality rule elections" (PDF). Party Politics. 19 (6): 855–886. doi:10.1177/1354068811411026. S2CID   18840573.
  17. Dickson, Eric S.; Scheve, Kenneth (2010). "Social Identity, Electoral Institutions and the Number of Candidates". British Journal of Political Science. 40 (2): 349–375. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1017/s0007123409990354. JSTOR   40649446. S2CID   7107526.
  18. "First Past the Post is a 'broken voting system'". Institute for Public Policy Research. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  19. Terry, Chris (28 August 2013). "In Britain's first past the post electoral system, some votes are worth 22 times more than others". London School of Economics. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  20. Galvin, Ray. "What is a marginal seat?". Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  21. 1 2 "First Past the Post". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  22. Brams/Kilgour. Dorey (2013). "Kingmakers and leaders in coalition formation". Social Choice and Welfare. 41 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1007/s00355-012-0680-4. hdl: 10419/53209 . JSTOR   42001390. S2CID   253849669.
  23. Andy Williams (1998). UK Government & Politics. Heinemann. p. 24. ISBN   978-0-435-33158-0.
  24. Ilan, Shahar. "Major Reforms Are Unlikely, but Electoral Threshold Could Be Raised". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  25. Dr.Mihaela Macavei, University of Alba Iulia, Romania. "Advantages and disadvantages of the uninominal voting system" (PDF). Retrieved 8 May 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. P. Dorey (17 June 2008). The Labour Party and Constitutional Reform: A History of Constitutional Conservatism. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 400–. ISBN   978-0-230-59415-9.
  27. "David Cameron. "David Cameron: why keeping first past the post is vital for democracy." Daily Telegraph. 30 April 2011
  28. Larry Johnston (13 December 2011). Politics: An Introduction to the Modern Democratic State. University of Toronto Press. pp. 231–. ISBN   978-1-4426-0533-6.
  29. "MEPs: Hungary can no longer be considered a full democracy" (Press release). European Parliament. 15 September 2022.
  30. Walker, Peter (22 April 2019). "First past the post abets extreme politics, says thinktank". The Guardian . Archived from the original on 6 December 2023.
  31. "The Electoral System and British Politics".
  32. Cowen, Doug. "The Graveyard of First Past the Post". Electoral Reform Society. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  33. Winter, Owen (25 August 2016). "How a Broken Voting System Gave South Africa Apartheid in 1948". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  34. Leblang, D.; Chan, S. (2003). "Explaining Wars Fought By Established Democracies: Do Institutional Constraints Matter?". Political Research Quarterly: 56-24: 385–400.
  35. 1 2 "PR and Conflict". Make Votes Matter. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  36. "What the Evidence Says". Fair Voting BC. 19 November 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  37. "Democracy: we've never had it so bad". The Guardian. 3 May 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  38. Tatchell, Peter (3 May 2010). "Democracy: we've never had it so bad". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  39. Barnett, Anthony (10 January 2020). "Will Labour's next leader finally break with first-past-the-post?". Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  40. Root, Tim (30 September 2019). "Making government accountable to the people". Left Foot Forward. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  41. Begany, Brent (30 June 2016). "The 2016 Election Proves The Need For Voting Reform". Policy Interns. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  42. Rosenbaum, David E. (24 February 2004). "THE 2004 CAMPAIGN: THE INDEPENDENT; Relax, Nader Advises Alarmed Democrats, but the 2000 Math Counsels Otherwise". The New York Times.
  43. Drogus, Carol Ann (2008). Introducing comparative politics: concepts and cases in context . CQ Press. pp.  257. ISBN   978-0-87289-343-6.
  44. 1 2 "First Past the Post". Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  45. 1 2 "Make Votes Matter—Everything wrong with First Past the Post—Proportional Representation". Make Votes Matter. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  46. Beech, Matt; Hickson, Kevin (3 July 2020). "Divided by Values: Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party and England's 'North-South Divide'". Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique. XXV (2). doi: 10.4000/rfcb.5456 . S2CID   198655613.
  47. "First Past the Post". Conservative Action for Electoral Reform. Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  48. "Elections Canada – Results by Province(s)". 2021 Elections Canada – Provinces. Elections Canada. 21 September 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  49. "General Election 2010: Safe and marginal seats". The Guardian. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  50. Wickham, Alex. ""Safe seats" almost guarantee corruption". Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  51. "FactCheck: expenses and safe seats". Channel 4. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  52. "What We Stand For".
  53. "Home". Fair Vote Canada.
  54. "Electoral Systems around the World". Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  55. "Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform – About LCER".
  56. "Countries using FPTP electoral system for national legislature". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  57. "Electoral Systems". ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  58. "Electoral College Frequently Asked Questions". National Archives . 6 July 2023. Archived from the original on 6 December 2023. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  59. Milia, Juan Guillermo (2015). El Voto. Expresión del poder ciudadano. Buenos Aires: Editorial Dunken. pp. 40–41. ISBN   978-987-02-8472-7.
  60. "Law 14,032". Sistema Argentino de Información Jurídica.
  61. "Kiesstelsel. §1.1 Federale verkiezingen". Encarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins. Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum. 1993–2002.
  62. "Elections 2019: The European Parliament". Flanders News. 17 April 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2022. The European Parliament elections in Belgium will be held on 26 May, the same day as the regional and federal elections. In the European elections there are three Belgian constituencies: the Dutch-speaking electoral college, the Francophone electoral college and the German-speaking electoral college.
  63. Bhuwan Chandra Upreti (2010). Nepal: Transition to Democratic Republican State : 2008 Constituent Assembly. Gyan Publishing House. pp. 69–. ISBN   978-81-7835-774-4.
  64. Encarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins (1993–2002) s.v. "Kiesstelsel. §1.1 Geschiedenis". Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum.
  65. "PNG voting system praised by new MP". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 December 2003. Archived from the original on 4 January 2005. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  66. "Which European countries use proportional representation?". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  67. MrdaljPolitikolog, Mladen; Univerzitetu, Predavač na Webster (8 October 2020). "Sedam zabluda o uvođenju većinskog izbornog sistema". Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  1. Prior to the 2020 election, the US states of Alaska and Maine completely abandoned FPTP in favor of ranked-choice voting or RCV. In the US, 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia use FPTP-GT to choose the electors of the Electoral College (which in turn elects the president); Maine and Nebraska use a variation where the electoral vote of each congressional district is awarded by FPTP (or by RCV in Maine beginning in 2020), and the statewide winner (using the same method used in each congressional district in the state) is awarded an additional two electoral votes. In states that employ FPTP-GT, the presidential candidate gaining the greatest number of votes wins all the state's available electors (seats), regardless of the number or share of votes won (majority vs non-majority plurality), or the difference separating the leading candidate and the first runner-up. [58]