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History and use of electoral systems

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Script error: No such module "AfC submission catcheck". 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. Elections and referendums have been organized by governments, business, non-profit organisations and informal organisations. There are many variations in electoral systems, with the most common systems being first-past-the-post voting, the two-round (runoff) system and proportional representation.

The study of electoral methods is called social choice theory or voting theory, and this study can take place within the field of political science, economics, or mathematics, and specifically within the subfields of game theory and mechanism design.


A chronological list of discovery, invention, development, description, or first known adoption and major use of electoral systems.


Medieval era[edit]

Modern era[edit]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

21st century[edit]

History and use of major systems[edit]

Plurality voting[edit]


Block voting[edit]

Majority voting[edit]

Two-round system[edit]

Instant-runoff voting[edit]

Proportional and semi-proportional systems[edit]

Single transferable vote[edit]

Historically, the single transferable vote (STV) was the first electoral system designed to achieve proportional representation.

It has seen a series of relatively modest periods of usage and disusage throughout the world; however, today it is seeing increasing popularity among proponents of electoral reform as a method of proportional or semi-proportional representation. This is especially prominent in the English speaking world, where reformers advocate for STV due to its similarity to FPTP in that voters primarily vote for candidates, not party-lists. By contrast, countries which developed or reformed their electoral systems later, without the long-lasting tradition of plurality or majoritarian voting (often implemented before modern party systems), list PR was more likely to be adopted.

STV has been used in many different local, regional and national electoral systems, as well as in various other types of bodies, around the world, notably in Australia, Ireland and Malta.

List PR[edit]

Party-list PR is the newer and by far the most common version of proportional representation, although it is relatively less common in English speaking world, where majoritarian representation via first-past-the-post is still often dominant. The historical reason for the is the Westminster system of government and it's influence among former colonies of the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

Electoral reform in list PR systems often focuses on implementing open lists, instead of closed lists, giving voters more control on which candidates get elected. However, there are parties which promote majoritarian systems for various reasons, ranging from simplicity, governability, and personalised representation. An example is the Dutch Democrats 66 party. Others campaign for the opposite, increasing proportionality by larger constituencies (sometimes a single, national constituency) and abolishment of electoral thresholds.

Limited voting[edit]

Mixed systems[edit]

Use by country[edit]


  1. "Divisor methods for proportional representation systems: An optimization approach to vector and matrix apportionment problems". Mathematical Social Sciences. 56 (2): 166–184. 2008-09-01. doi:10.1016/j.mathsocsci.2008.01.004. ISSN 0165-4896.
  2. Brams, Steven J.; Kilgour, D. Marc (2010). "Satisfaction Approval Voting" (PDF). Paper presented at the Annual National Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, in April 2010.
  3. Canadian House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform (September 29, 2016). "Meeting No. 33 Evidence".
  4. "Score Runoff Voting: The New Voting Method that Could Save Our Democratic Process". Independent Voter Network. 2016-12-08. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  5. Fabre, Adrien (2021). "Tie‐breaking the highest median: alternatives to the majority judgment". Social Choice and Welfare. 56: 101–124. doi:10.1007/s00355-020-01269-9 – via Springer Link. Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)

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