What is Proportional Representation?

Definition and meaning of proportional representation: Proportional representation is a voting system in which the number of seats a political party or group holds in an elected body is roughly proportional to the number of votes they receive. This means that if a party receives 30% of the votes, they will hold roughly 30% of the seats in the elected body. This contrasts with systems such as plurality voting, where the candidate or party with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority.

Proportional representation is often seen as a way to ensure that all voices are heard and that all voters have a say in the election. This is because it allows for smaller parties and groups to gain representation in an elected body, even if they do not have a majority of the votes. This can lead to a more diverse and representative government.

Examples of proportional representation can be found in countries such as Germany, Italy and Israel. In Germany, for example, the Bundestag (the German parliament) is elected using a mixed system of proportional representation and first-past-the-post. This means that voters cast two votes: one for a candidate in their local constituency and one for a party list. This ensures that small parties and groups are represented in the Bundestag.

In the United States, however, proportional representation is not widely used. The main reason is that the electoral system is based on the winner-takes-all principle, where the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority. This system tends to favor the two major parties, making it difficult for smaller parties and independent candidates to gain representation.


Fairer elections mean fairer government

Join the movement to reform America's political dysfunction
Frame 30 (1)