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Proportional representation voting is common electoral system among the most advanced Western democracies. Amy (2000) says that twenty one out of the twenty eight countries in Western Europe use proportional representation. This type of voting is not one but several and therefore it acts as a basic principle that several different kinds of voting systems embody. Amy indicates that” its principle is that the number of seats a political party or group wins in a legislature should be proportional to the amount of its support among voters” (2000 p. 65). In proportional representation if a political party wins 30% of the vote, it should receive about 30% of the seats.

One of the common features of proportional representation is that list systems, mixed member and choice voting all differ in the way ballots are structured, votes are cast and seats are allocated (Amy, 2000). The first characteristic of proportional representation systems is that it uses multimember districts. This implies that instead of electing one member of the legislature in each local district it uses larger districts where several members are elected at once. This type of electoral system is used in Russia. Amy (2000) thus says that in practice the number of members elected in a district can vary depending on the country.

Unlike in a single member district electoral system where a winner takes all and where when one candidate is elected, then one party inevitably gets all of the representation in multimember proportional representation districts allow many parties to win seats in a district (Amy, 2000). Amy says that “more voters have more representation hence in proportional representation districts 80%-90% of voters win representation compared to the 40%-60% typical of winner take all voting systems” (2000, p.68).

The candidates who win the seats in multimember districts is determined by the proportion of the votes a party or political group receives. Amy (2000) says that this is the central defining characteristic of these systems. For example let assume that in election there is a ten member proportional representation district. If party A wins 50% of the vote they receive five of those ten seats. With 30% of the vote the party B gets three seats and if party C receives the other 20% of the vote it then gets the remaining two seats (Amy, 2000).

Proportional representation systems assume that most people tend to identify their political orientation according to parties and political ideologies and not geography. According to Amy (2000) single member districts puts more emphasizes on geographical representation over party representation in proportional representation geographical significance plays a much smaller role in peoples political identity. Amy (2000) noted that “this type of electoral system is designed to ensure that voters are fairly represented along these partisan lines” (p. 69).

Another major characteristic of these systems is their low thresholds of exclusion which is the minimum port ion of the vote a party must have to be sure of winning a seat in the legislature (Amy, 2000). Unlike in the in a single member district where winning threshold hold 50% + 1 in proportional representation systems a political group may be sure of winning an election if it gets 5% or 10% of the vote. However this may further vary from one proportional representation system to the other. For example Amy (2000) says that “in list forms of proportional representation I is usually less than 5% and in a few instances may be around 1%” (p. 69).  

One of main merits of proportional representation electoral system is that it ensures fair and accurate representation for parties participating in the elections. Amy (2000) says that this type of voting gives parties the proportion of seats they deserve based on their voting strength. This type of electoral system nurtures minor parties unlike in single member districts voting system. The system allows voters to cast sincere ballots for their candidates unlike voting in single member district where minor party candidates often makes little sense even if they are the individual’s first choice. Amy (2000) continues to indicate that “in proportional representation systems minor party candidates stand a better chance of being elected so citizens can vote sincerely for the candidates they most prefer instead of having to choose between the lesser two evils” (p. 71).

Russia uses unlike the United States uses a mixed form of electoral system which applies both the single member districts (SMDs) and the proportional representation (PR). This is the major difference which exists between the electoral systems of these two countries. Russia has over the years attempted to change its electoral system hence it has been a difficult task of using one form of electoral system.

Code: Sample20

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