On Elections

How people elect parliaments

Provincial assemblies

STATES AND PROVINCES

Australian Capital Territory – a unicameral Legislative Assembly of which the sole house is an assembly of 25 members. The members are directly elected in five electoral divisions electing 5 members by the single transferable vote (STV) voting method, including features such as the use of Robson Rotation of ballot papers and the inclusive Gregory method of surplus distribution. Terms are fixed at four years.

The ACT has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which executive power is exercised by the Chief Minister on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Legislative Assembly. (Last updated April 2017)

Baden-Württemberg – a unicameral Landtag, a composite assembly of at least 120 members (but usually somewhat larger, and currently 139 members – see below). The Land (state) of Baden-Württemberg is divided into electoral regions, which are further subdivided into a total of 70 local electoral divisions. Voters cast a single vote for a local division candidate, but this vote is used in two ways. On the basis of the votes, 70 members are directly elected in these single-member divisions by the plurality method. A further number of seats – at minimum 50 – are not directly elected but are allocated to political parties such that within each electoral region the numbers of seats held by each party which wins at least 5% of the vote within the region (as measured by the aggregate of votes for all its candidates in the local divisions) is proportional to that party aggregate vote, using the Sainte-Laguë formula of proportionality. Each region has a nominal total number of seats that is somewhat larger than its number of local divisions, totalling 120 seats across the entire Land. However at present the CDU party is generally the plurality winner of most local divisions, and the number of seats allocated to other eligible parties must therefore expand to the numbers sufficient to achieve the required proportional allocation in each region. The overall result is more than 120 seats overall (for example, 139 seats at the 2011 elections). In practice the number of seats allocated to other parties is therefore derived from the number of CDU local victories. The additional seats allocated to parties are filled not by party lists (as is common elsewhere in Germany) but by the local division candidates within each region with the highest personal votes (disregarding those who actually won the plurality in their division and thus have already secured a seat).[i] Elections are held every 5 years.

Baden-Württemberg has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which executive power is exercised by the Minister-President on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Landtag. (last updated January 2014)

Bavaria – a unicameral Landtag, a composite assembly of at least 180 members. The Land (state) of Bavaria is divided into electoral regions, which are further subdivided into a total of 91 local electoral divisions. Voters cast two votes: one for a local division candidate, and the second for any individual candidate from across their electoral region, excluding those of their own local division. Using the local votes, 91 members are directly elected in single-member divisions by the plurality method. A further number of seats – at minimum 89 – are not directly elected but are allocated to political parties such that the numbers of seats held by each party within each electoral region is proportional (using the Sainte-Laguë formula) to the aggregate of votes for all its candidates across both the local division voting and the region-wide voting in that region,  of proportionality. However to be eligible to be allocated such seats in any region, a party must win at least 5% of the Land-wide vote; the seat allocation is thus determined by the relative party votes among only the eligible parties, not among all parties. Each region has a nominal total number of seats that is somewhat larger than its number of local divisions, totalling 180 seats across the entire Land. If necessary the number of seats in a given region may expand beyond its nominal total in cases where a dominant party (the CSU) wins a disproportionate number of the local division seats. The additional seats allocated to parties in each region are filled not by party lists (as is common elsewhere in Germany) but by the candidates with the highest aggregate of personal votes across both the local division voting and the region-wide voting, disregarding those who actually won the plurality in their division (and thus have already secured a seat).[ii] Elections are held every 5 years.

Bavaria has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which executive power is exercised by the Minister-President on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Landtag. (last updated January 2014)

Northern Ireland – a unicameral Assembly (Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann (Irish); Norlin Airlan Assemblie (Ulster Scots)), of which the sole house is an assembly of 90 members. The members are directly elected in 18 electoral divisions each electing 5 members by the single transferable vote (STV) voting method. Terms are up to four years.

Within the scope of the powers devolved to it by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which nominal executive authority is vested in the Queen. However, actual executive power is exercised by the First Minister on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Assembly. The appointment of the Executive follows an unusual practice whereby the seats in the ministry are allocated proportionally among parties in the Assembly by the D’Hondt method. (Last updated April 2017)

Réunion – Réunion is a department of France and also a region of France (French regions are aggregates of departments, but in the case of Réunion the region consists of the sole department). In its capacity as both a region and a department, Réunion has two assemblies with distinct powers. The departmental assembly is the Conseil général (General Council), an assembly of 45 members. Members are directly elected in single-member electoral divisions by the two-round runoff voting method. Terms are 5 years. The regional assembly is the conseil regional (Regional Council), an assembly of 47 members. Members are not directly elected, but seats are allocated to parties by the closed party list system of seat allocation. Terms are 6 years

The head of state of Réunion is the President of France, represented on the island by a Prefect. However departmental executive power is exercised by the President of the General Council, who is selected by the Council. (Last updated December 2015)

Scotland – a unicameral Parliament (Pàrlamaid (Gaelic); Pairliament (Scots)) of which the sole house is an assembly of 129 members. The seats are party directly elected and partly allocated to parties through a variant of the British additional member system (AMS). The country is divided into 8 electoral regions, which are further divided into 73 electoral divisions. The total number of seats for each electoral region is the number of local divisions in the region (either 9 or 10) plus 7.

Voters cast two votes: one vote to elect a local division representative and one ‘list vote’ to support a party at the regional level. The seats within each region seats are allocated by a variant of the D’Hondt formula in which the number of list votes cast for each party is divided successively during the count by a divisor equal to 1 plus the number of seats the party has already won. At each stage, another seat is awarded to the party with the highest current quotient, and the process is repeated until all seats are allocated. However this allocation process begins with the first 9 or 10 places being awarded to the local division members who are directly elected through the local votes by the plurality voting method. There are thus 73 directly elected members and a further 56 members (7 in each electoral region) awarded seats through closed party list seat allocation. The names of the listed party candidates for the allocated seats appeared on the ballot papers at the first two elections held in 1999 and 2003, but from 2007 onward the ballots only present the party names, not those of the individual candidates. Terms are up to four years.

Within the scope of the powers devolved to it by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Scotland has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which nominal executive authority is vested in the Queen. However, actual executive power is exercised by the Prìomh Mhinistear or First Minister on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Parliament. (Last updated April 2017)

Tasmania – a bicameral Parliament of which the lower house is the House of Assembly, an assembly of 25 members. The members are directly elected in 5 electoral divisions each electing 5 members by the single transferable vote (STV) voting method, with features including the use of Robson Rotation of ballot papers and the inclusive Gregory method of surplus distribution. Terms are up to four years.

Tasmania has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which nominal executive authority is vested in the Queen and exercised by the state Governor. However, actual executive power is exercised by the Premier on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the House of Assembly. (Last updated April 2017)

Wales – a unicameral National Assembly (Cynulliad Cenedlaethol (Welsh)) of which the sole house is an assembly of 60 members. The seats are partly directly elected and partly allocated to parties through a variant of the British additional member system (AMS). The country is divided into 5 electoral regions, which are further divided into 40 electoral divisions, with 8 divisions in each region. The total number of seats for each electoral region is 12. Voters cast two votes: one vote to elect a local division representative and one ‘list vote’ to support a party at the regional level. The seats within each region seats are allocated by a variant of the D’Hondt formula in which the number of list votes cast for each party is divided successively during the count by a divisor equal to 1 plus the number of seats the party has already won. At each stage, another seat is awarded to the party with the highest current quotient, and the process is repeated until all seats are allocated. However this allocation process begins with the first 8 places being awarded to the local division members who are directly elected through the local votes by the plurality voting method. There are thus 40 directly elected members and a further 20 members (4 in each electoral region) awarded seats through closed party list seat allocation. Terms are up to four years.

Within the scope of the powers devolved to it by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Wales has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which nominal executive authority is vested in the Queen. However, actual executive power is exercised by the Prif Weinidog or First Minister on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Assembly. (Last updated April 2017)

DEPENDENT TERRITORY GOVERNMENTS

Gibraltar – a unicameral Parliament of which the sole house is an assembly of 17 members. Members are directly elected by the limited voting method, with each voter allowed to cast votes for up to 10. Each of two major parties nominates a slate of 10 candidates. Terms are up to four years.

Gibraltar has the majority parliamentary system of government, in which nominal executive authority is vested in the Queen of the United Kingdom. However, actual executive power is exercised by the Chief Minister on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Parliament. (Last updated April 2017)

Guernsey – a unicameral States of Deliberation (or États de Délibération), an assembly of 49 members (reducing to 42 in 2016). 45 members representing the people of Guernsey (reducing to 38 in 2016) are directly elected in a mix of single- and multi-member electoral divisions by the block voting method (which amounts to the plurality voting method in those divisions that have just one seat). An additional 2 members representing people of the nearby island of Alderney are similarly elected. Terms are 4 years. In addition there are two non-voting members appointed by the Crown, known as the Law Officers of the Crown, also sit in the States of Deliberation; non-voting members: Her Majesty’s Procureur (or Attorney General) and Her Majesty’s Comptroller (or Solicitor General). Finally, an officer titled the Bailiff, appointed by the Crown, presides over the meetings of the States of Deliberation.

Guernsey is not part of the United Kingdom, but is a possession of the Duke of Normandy, an office held by the British monarch. The territory is known as a bailiwick. Executive power is vested in a Lieutenant Governor appointed by the Crown, but in practice the local administration is led by a Chief Minister who is directly elected for a four-year term. (Last updated December 2015)

Hong Kong – a unicameral Lìfǎ Jú (Mandarin), Laahp-faat Wúih (Cantonese) or Legislative Council, of which the sole house is a composite assembly of 70 members. There are three categories of members: 35 geographical constituency members, 30 functional constituency members, and 5 district council members. 35 seats are allotted to 5 multi-member electoral divisions (geographical constituencies), variously represented by between 4 and 8 seats in proportion to population. The members for these constituencies are not directly elected, but seats are allocated to political parties by the closed party list seat allocation system (using a simple Hare quota and the largest remainder rule). 30 seats are allocated to 28 functional constituencies that group together various workforce, professional or economic sectors of the community. One such constituency – Labour – has three representatives, while all others have one. 10 of these functional constituency representatives are elected by sector organisations voting as entities, 8 are elected by a mix of sector organisations and registered individual voters (the latter ranging in number from 130 to 7,500 persons in different functional constituencies), and 10 are elected by registered individual voters only (ranging in number from 155 to 89,000 in different functional constituencies). In 23 of the functional constituencies, members are directly elected in single member divisions by the plurality voting method. In 4 of the functional constituencies, members are directly elected in single member divisions by preferential (or instant runoff) voting. Finally, the 3 members for the Labour functional constituency (which is made up of organisations, not individual voters) are elected by the block voting method. A final 5 seats represent the 18 local government district councils of Hong Kong, directly elected by resident voters in those districts. Terms for all the members of the Legislative Council are four years.

Hong Kong has the dominant presidential system of government, in which executive power is exercised solely by the Xiānggǎng Xíngzhèng (Mandarin), hangzing zoenggun (Cantonese) or Chief Executive, subject to only limited constraints from the legislature. The Chief Executive is selected by an 800-member electoral college consisting of individuals and interest group representatives, who are themselves elected within the 28 Legislative Council functional constituencies, after which the selected nominee is appointed by the national government of China. (last updated September 2012)

Isle of Man – a bicameral Tynwald of which the lower house is the Chiare as Feed (House of Keys), an assembly of 24 members. The Tynwald is one of the oldest continuously existing assemblies in the world (only the Althing of Iceland is older). Members are directly elected in 15 electoral divisions consisting of 1, 2 or 3 members by the single non-transferable vote (SNTV) voting method. Terms are up to five years.

The Isle of Man has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which nominal executive authority is vested in the hereditary Lord of Mann, a title held since 1765 by the monarch of the United Kingdom. However, actual executive power (subject to the laws of the United Kingdom) is exercised by the Ard-choylargh (Chief Minister) on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Chiare as Feed. (last updated December 2015)

Macau – a unicameral Assembleia Legislativa or Oumùhn Laahpfaat Wúih (Legislative Assembly), a composite assembly of 33 members. 14 members are not directly elected, but seats are allocated to parties by the closed party list system of seat allocation, using the D’Hondt formula. A further 12 members are elected by functional constituencies, which include professional and special interests groups, the members of which may include individuals, organisations or corporations. The 12 seats are allotted to 5 functional constituencies including business (4 seats), labour (2 seats), professional (3 seats), welfare and education (1 seat), and culture and sport (2 seats). The final 7 members are appointed by the Chief Executive. Terms are 5 years.

Macau, like Hong Kong, is a ‘special administrative region’ of the People’s Republic of China, with a constitution contained in the 1993 agreement documents with Portugal under which sovereignty of the territory returned to China. Under this system executive power is exercised by the Chief Executive, who is appointed by the central government of China on the recommendation of a local electoral college of 400 people nominated by corporate and community organisations. (Last updated December 2015)

Puerto Rico – a bicameral Legislative Assembly (or Asamblea Legislativa) of which the lower house is the House of Representatives (or Cámara de Representantes), an assembly of 51 members. 40 members are directly elected in single member divisions by the plurality method. The remaining 11 members are elected in a single national pool by the single non-transferable vote (SNTV). Terms are 5 years.

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States of America, and the President of the United States is the head of state of the territory. Puerto Rico has the presidential system of government, in which executive power is exercised by the Governor, who is directly elected for a four-year term by the plurality method. A president is limited to two terms of office. (Last updated December 2015)

LOCAL AND CITY GOVERNMENTS

Cambridge City, Massachusetts – a unicameral City Council of 9 members. The members are directly elected in a single electoral division by the single transferable vote (STV) voting method, with features including the rotation of order of candidates’ names on the ballot papers (see Robson Rotation), optical scanning of ballot papers to allow rapid counting of the results (including eliminations and transfers), and the simultaneous elimination of candidates which win fewer than 50 first preference votes. Terms are two years.[iii] (last updated January 2014)

London – The Greater London Authority includes a unicameral Assembly, a composite assembly of 25 members elected by the British additional member system (AMS). The London area is divided into 14 local electoral divisions. Voters cast two votes, one for a candidate to be directly elected in a local division (‘local votes’) and one for a favoured party overall (‘party votes’). 14 members are directly elected in single-member divisions by the local votes using the plurality voting method. The remaining 11 seats are not directly elected but are instead allocated (using the D’Hondt method) to parties that win at least 5% of the party votes so that the total composition of the Assembly is as closely as possible proportional to the total party votes won by each such party. These 11 seats are allocated to individual candidates from closed party lists. Terms are up to four years.

The Greater London Authority has the separated powers system of government, in which executive power is exercised by the Mayor subject to a division of responsibilities and powers shared with the Assembly, which is formally independent of the Mayor. The Mayor is directly elected for a four-year term by the supplementary vote preferential voting system, and individuals are limited to 2 terms of office. (last updated February 2012)

Notes
[i] See Louis Massicotte in Colomer 2012, p 104
[ii] See Louis Massicotte in Colomer 2012, p 104
[iii] Details of the system, including information brochures, are at http://www.cambridgema.gov.

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