Monday, March 10, 2014

Voting in the free world

Of 34 developed countries, only Canada and the UK dole out absolute power to arbitrary minority parties. Other countries ensure an actual majority of voters is represented in government.

Check out the different ways developed nations vote:

Developed country voting info

(Developed countries: 34)
Implemented voting reform 31 91%
Democratic voting system 32 94%
Proportional Representation 29 85%
Runoff voting 2 6%
FPP two-party 1 3%
FPP multi-party (undemocratic) 2 6%

Here are the voting systems in more detail:

Developed Countries (IMF)

Country Voting System Variation
Anglo-Saxon countries
Australia Runoff vote PV
Canada FPP Multi-party state
Ireland PR STV
New Zealand PR MMP
UK FPP Multi-party state
US FPP Two-party state
European countries
Austria PR Party list
Belgium PR Party list
Cyprus PR Party list
Czech Republic PR Party list
Denmark PR Party list
Estonia PR Party list
Finland PR Party list
France Runoff vote Two elections
Germany PR MMP
Greece PR Reinforced proportionality
Iceland PR Party List
Italy PR Party list
Luxembourg PR Party list
Malta PR STV
Netherlands PR Party list
Norway PR Party list
Portugal PR Party list
San Marino PR Party list
Slovakia PR Party list
Slovenia PR Party list
Spain PR Party list
Sweden PR Party list
Switzerland PR Party list
Asian countries
Hong Kong PR Party list
Israel PR Party list
Japan PR MMP
South Korea PR MMP
Taiwan PR MMP


  1. Thanks for this Ron, I did a similar post some years ago, at that time I preferred the MMP NZ model but am now not so sure about anything except that FPP has to got to go! Many proponents of change say that the want PR, I have come to realize that the trouble with this is that saying PR is not the same as implementing it. Apart from the fact that in a country the size of Canada there must be 'compromises' to include lesser populated areas, rural areas vs urban with different wants and needs the actual method of translating the popular vote into a governance model varies greatly, and is highly contentions in selecting a model. I am going to be challenging those who say "I want PR" to be more specific, Keep up the good work Ron, we need these discussions.

    1. Mixed Member Proportional would probably be a good way to go. It keeps elected MPs but adds on a minority of party-list seats to ensure parties get the same percent total seats they got in votes.

      Single Transferable Vote PR has many MPs to one riding. If there are 5 per riding and a party gets 20% they get 1 seat; 60 percent, 3 seats. Individuals belonging to a party are directly elected with a ranked ballot (no party-list seats.)

      But with large ridings it's hard to represent rural areas. From about 1920 to 1950, AB and SK implemented STV. Urban ridings had multiple-member. Rural, one member (effectively ranked ballot voting.)

      Ranked Ballot Voting is also an important option. This fixes our existing system by making MPs earn their seats with a majority. It stops vote splitting and voters getting stuck with politicians and governments they don't want and didn't vote for. It's more proportional for large parties (like Liberal, Con and NDP.) But excludes small parties like the Greens.

      I think it's very important we have a 3-way referendum on the major options: FPP, PR and RBV. Then hold a runoff vote if one system doesn't win with a majority on the first round. (Have a MMP/STV option on PR.)

      If there is a two-way referendum, FPP will always win a fake majority: FPP/PR: RBV supporters think PR goes too far and opt for the status quo; FPP/RBV: PR supporters think RBV is not a real reform and opt for the status quo.

      Any two-way referendum will kill all hope of electoral reform. (There were 4 failed PR provincial referendums in Canada; 1 failed RBV referendum in the UK.)

    2. Thanks, BTW. I'm hoping to contribute to a national discussion on electoral reform, that will be inclusive of all electoral reformers. As I said, the two major kinds of voting reform are PR and ranked ballot voting. I think the country is really divided equally 3 ways on the issue: between FPP, PR and RBV.

      So if electoral reformers start playing politics and try to get the other option taken off the table, we will end up getting stuck with corrupt FPP. I've seen 5 two-way referendums go down in flames. If a federal referendum is rejected, that will cement FPP as the democratic choice of Canadians.

  2. Actually 88 countries around the world have some form of PR. Mt Holyoke University has a web site which describes in detail the methods of PR. will get you there.

    1. You have a typo in the url. Here's the right one:

      I got my information from Wikipedia. It has a table that lists all countries that use PR (looks like 88.) The 3 main forms are: party-list, Mixed-Member Proportional and Single Transferable Vote.

      In Canada we had PR referendums in BC, ON and PEI. Citizens' assemblies recommended STV in BC; MMP in ON and PEI. The Electoral Reform Society in England favors STV. Australia uses ranked ballot voting in its lower house; but STV in its senate.

      I focus on the voting systems of developed countries (IMF definition.)

      I believe we should have a 3-way referendum on voting reform to ensure all Canadians are represented. The three main voting systems are: FPTP, PR and ranked ballot voting. To ensure one system is supported by a majority, a runoff vote will be held if necessary.

      With this kind of referendum, options can be added to the PR category: PR variant (party-list, MMP, STV, etc.); and threshold: 3%, 4%, 5% (the Wikipedia article shows thresholds.)

      This way we get a voting system Canadians actually want. Two-way referendums -- PR/FPP or RBV/FPP -- always fail because voters are split three ways on the issue and they opt for the status quo if their option isn't on the ballot.

      Wikipedia: Proportional Representation

  3. Not to be a nitpicker, but proportional representation is not a voting system. It is a goal, something you try to achieve with your voting system, and it can be achieved with a variety of systems.

    This difference is important because one frequently encounters the argument that PR doesn't work well in some country or other—Israel is commonly mentioned—therefore we wouldn't want it here. But of course we would never adopt the Israeli voting system. It is indeed proportional, but it's designed for a homogeneous country and Canada is highly regional.

    It’s important to point out to skeptics that Canadians can design a voting system that fits our particular needs—proportionality being first on the list—by selecting from the many systems available.

    1. Israel uses party-list PR with a 2% threshold (the amount of vote a party needs before getting any seats.) That was raised from 1.5% in 2003.

      Countries like Germany and New Zealand use PR (Mixed Member Proportional variant) but have a 5% threshold to keep the fringe parties at bay.

      One of the weapons the Toronto Star used against the ON MMP referendum was its low 3% threshold (recommended by a citizens' assembly.)

      If we have an electoral reform referendum, we should let voters decide what system they want. The best way to simplify would be a 3-way referendum with the main three systems: FPTP, PR and ranked ballot voting.

      If one selects the PR option, they can choose what variation they prefer: party-list, MMP, STV, etc.; they can also choose the threshold they prefer: 3%, 4%, 5%.

      If one system doesn't win with a majority, there will be a runoff vote to ensure one system has the backing of a majority of voters. On the runoff vote, the PR options can be narrowed down if PR makes it to the second round.

      Any form of PR -- party list, MMP, STV -- handles regional representation better than FPTP which distorts the regional vote. E.g. the Bloc became OO in 1993 on 14% of the vote; compared to Reform 19%, PC 16%. Obviously an absurd unjustifiable outcome.


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