Here is an essay on the ‘Election System of the World’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on the ‘Election System of the World’ especially written for school and college students.
Systems of Election
- Essay on the Meaning of Electoral System
- Essay on the Definition of Election, Franchise and Electorate
- Essay on the Direct and Indirect Election
- Essay on the Merits and Demerits of Direct and Indirect Election
- Essay on the Universal Adult Suffrage
- Essay on the Womanhood Suffrage
- Essay on the Proportional Representation
Essay # 1. Meaning of Electoral System:
The electoral systems, which stand for the ways of choosing representatives like the members of parliament, had their origin in ancient Greece and Rome. Although most of the public offices in Greece were filled by lot, a few important posts were filled by votes, which were indicated by show of hands.
In some cases like ostracism (banishment of someone considered dangerous to the state) was done by a secret vole by inscribing names on a potsherd.
As for Rome, in 139 B.C. a voter for Comitia Centuriata was required to use a tablet to indicate his choice by putting it into the appropriate box or urn. Elsewhere, pebbles or small wooden balls might be used from which the word “ballot” is derived.
Until the nineteenth century the numbers of voters were very small for electing some elected government. The number steadily increased since then so that by stages more and more countries opted for universal suffrage.
The minimum voting age ranged between eighteen to twenty-four though twenty-one was the most common. Recently, England and India reduced it from twenty-one to eighteen. Again, women have still no vote in Switzerland, in some Latin American countries and Muslim countries.
The electoral procedure also differed from country to country. Under the usual system the candidate with the largest number of votes is elected, irrespective of whatever the difference from the other candidates. This usual majority system is found in England, the USA and in the Commonwealth countries.
Essay # 2. Definition of Election, Franchise and Electorate:
It is the people from whom the modern government derives its strength. It is the people who directly or indirectly control the government through their political rights especially through their right to vote. This right to vote is called franchise or suffrage. The exercise of the right to suffrage by the citizens in the choice of their government is called election. The particular choice by a particular citizen is called voting.
The right to suffrage is exercised by the citizens either for the choice of their representative or for expressing approval or dis-approval of any particular measure put before the people. Those people who enjoy the right to suffrage are collectively called the electorate and individually called the voter.
Thus election is a device by means of which the people in a democratic country choose their representative by casting their votes.
The importance of the electorate in a modern state is so great that some political thinkers are of the view that the electorate constitutes the fourth organ of the government, the other three being the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
It is, therefore, pertinent to make a study of the extent and qualifications of the electorate and the various theories and methods involved with regard to the electorate, the suffrage and the representation.
Essay # 3. Direct and Indirect Election:
When the people directly elect their representatives the system is called the direct election. Here the voters go to the polling booth and cast their votes in favour of their candidate in mind. In this case the candidate who secures a majority of the votes so cast is declared elected.
This method, marked by its simplicity, is adopted in the election of the lower houses of the legislature in most of the democratic countries of the world. Thus the House of Commons in England and the Lok Sabha in India are elected in this direct way.
In an indirect election the voters do not straightway elect their candidates. They are to at first elect an intermediate body commonly known as the electoral college, which is entrusted with the election of the representatives. It is apparent that in an indirect election there is a double election.
The President of the USA is elected in this way. The people do not directly vote for the President. They elect the members of the legislatures, both in the centre and the provinces, and these representatives constitute the electoral college, which finally elects the President. In India we have an indirect election in choosing the President.
The same is the practice in electing the members of Rajya Sabha and the Vidhan Parishads, the upper houses of the union legislature and the provincial legislature respectively.
Essay # 4. Merits and Demerits of Direct and Indirect Election:
Like all institutions and methods of political science, the system of direct and indirect elections has both merits and demerits. The merit of direct election involves demerits of indirect election and vice versa.
Merits of Direct Election and Demerits of Indirect Election:
In the first place, in a direct election there is a close contact between the voters and the representatives which is in tune with the spirit of democracy. If democracy is a government by the people it cannot be real unless the people have a direct say in the election of their representatives.
In an indirect election the people are kept away from knowing who is going to be finally elected by their voles. Thus in an indirect election the people are reduced into insignificance. Nor can the representatives have any responsibility to the people. Thus direct election is more democratic than the indirect one.
In the second place, the voters take active interest in the election and keep an open eye on the activities of their representatives. When the people know that their votes have some weightage over the government, it stimulates in them a sense of responsibility, political education and self-respect.
This popular interest in public life as generated by the direct election is absent in indirect election. As a result, the voters in an indirect election have the reverse effect of indifference and apathy in political life of the state. It even induces the people to sell their votes, because they know that their votes will not elect the final representatives.
In the third place, the representatives themselves in a direct election have to cater to the public opinion. This does not happen in an indirect election, where the representatives, who are quite distant from the voters, do not know the pulse of the people. This makes the representatives irresponsible and they may even go against the interest of the people.
In the fourth place, in a direct election the representatives are bound to be honest and efficient, because they will have to face the voters in the next election. To ensure a future smooth sailing, the representatives will not indulge in corruption and nepotism. They will have to keep their slates clean.
But in an indirect election, where there is no rapport between the voters and the representatives, we find all sorts of political evils like corruption, nepotism, spoil system, etc. Thus all characterless politicians thrive under an indirect election.
Demerits of Direct Election and Merits of Indirect Election:
In the first place, direct election is unsuitable for a vast country with explosive population. The largeness of the land and the vastness of the population bristle with insurmountable difficulties. If the President of India is to be directly elected by the seventeen crore voters from Kashmir to Kokrajhar this will tell upon the national economy and may be even an impracticable method. Here indirect election will score over the direct one.
A poor country like India will be financially hit by putting the ballot boxes all over the country to elect the President. It is recommended that a few elected representatives of the people should be left with the task of electing the President
In the second place, direct election will not work well in a country plagued by illiteracy and ignorance. If the people are illiterate and ignorant they will be easily misled by the crafty politicians and the demagogues. In such a condition the mass people should elect an intermediate body of literate and experienced persons, who by dint of their superior skill and experience, will be able to elect the best representatives. In other words, indirect election, which involves a duplication of election, will filter out the best elements in the state.
In the third place, by encouraging the growth of political parties, direct election reduces the state into a battlefield of political parties. The President of India is indirectly elected in order to keep the position of the President above politics. Otherwise, the highest post of the nation would tilt in favour of the party to which the President belongs.
The points of disadvantages of direct election are really the points of democracy. So to attack direct election will be an attack on democracy. India is no doubt a vast country of illiterate people. Yet the illiterate voters in a direct election succeeded in showing their wisdom by overthrowing the dictatorial regime of Indira Gandhi in 1977.
Again, political parties must play its role in all elections, because democracy cannot function effectively without political parties. So direct election must be preferable to the indirect one. Indirect election cannot be supported because it is undemocratic and it is a negation of the popular rule. It will make the ruler dictatorial, inefficient and corrupt. In an indirect system of election there is a tendency to encourage vested interest, nepotism, bribery and spoil system.
In the election of lower house in the centre, the provinces, the local bodies and the Panchayati Raj there must be direct election, because these are vitally linked up with the people. The indirect method may be employed in the election of the President of India, the upper house of the legislatures, be it central or provincial, because these institutions are not reflections of the popular will. These institutions play rather a secondary role in the public life.
Essay # 5. Universal Adult Suffrage:
When the right to vote is given to all adult citizens irrespective of sex or any property qualification, it is called universal adult suffrage. Here the criterion for having the right to vote is the specified age when a man or woman becomes adult. The adult age is different from country to country. In the USA the voting age is 21 years, but in India and England it is 18 years. So a man or woman on attaining the age as prescribed by the government of the country, becomes entitled to cast the vote.
When that right is extended to all irrespective of sex, religion or property qualification it is a case of universal adult suffrage. Thus in India all the people, whether rich or poor, men or women, Hindus or Muslims or of any faith, on attaining the age of 18 are included in the voters’ list and are given the right to choose their representatives. So in India there is universal adult suffrage.
Arguments in Favour of Universal Adult Suffrage:
The first line of argument in favour of universal adult suffrage is that it is based on the concept of the sovereignty of the people. Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill and some other progressive political thinkers believed that since sovereignty resides in the people, it is an inherent right of every citizen to be entitled to vote.
Since democracy is a government by all, nobody should be excluded from the right to choose the government. From this it follows that the spirit of democracy can be preserved only if all citizens are allowed to participate in the formation of the government.
More importantly, universal adult suffrage is in line with the principle of citizenship, because the basic function of a citizen is to exercise political rights, of which the most important is the right to vote. Only that person is said to be free who possesses a vote and who shares in the making of the government. So to deny the voting right to a person is not only to deny democracy to him but citizenship also.
The second line of argument in favour of universal adult suffrage is that since the government is directly concerned with the people, they must have a voice in the government. This is rightly said by John Stuart Mill-“What touches all should also be decided by all”. We know that the end of the state is the welfare of the people. How can there be popular welfare, if the popular wishes are not allowed to be expressed in the government? The interest of all sections of the people is safeguarded if all sections of the people focus their views in the making of the government. So the exclusion of any group of population from the right to vote will be arbitrary and discriminatory.
The third line of argument in favour of universal adult suffrage is that it is in consonance with the principle of equality which is another pillar of democracy. Political equality presupposes that the right to vote should be equally shared by all. To exclude any class of people from voting power will wound the principle of equality.
John Stuart Mill supports universal adult suffrage on the ground that the rights and interests of all sections of the people can be best safeguarded if it has power to defend itself. And so Mill is of the firm conviction that it will be unjustifiable to exclude or debar certain classes of people from the right to vote.
More importantly, the voting right is a status of dignity, self-respect and education, i.e., all that civility of life demands. So the voting right is considered an advancement or progress in human civilisation. To deny the right to vote is to put back the hands of the clock of time.
The fourth line of argument is that there is no scientific or reasonable criterion to debar a citizen from his right to vote. Harold J. Laski underlined that if property is a qualification for voting, in that case economic misfortune must be considered a curse.
Similarly, educational qualification has no nexus with political fitness. According to Laski, the real and only test of exclusion must be on the ground of lunacy or mental disability.
Arguments against universal adult suffrage – The first line of argument against universal adult suffrage is that those who do not understand political affairs should not exercise the right to vote, because they cannot make a judicious use of the vote and as such their voting right and function will produce disastrous consequences for the nation.
The ignorant masses cannot elect the right type of people to run the government efficiently. Those who do not know how to cook will spoil the broth. If the suffrage is given to the ignorant, there will be despotism today and anarchy tomorrow.
The second line of argument against universal adult suffrage is that in order to infuse a kind of awareness among the voters there must be insistence on certain qualifications like education, property or payment of taxation. For John Stuart Mill, education is an essential element to the entitlement of right to vote.
So he went to the extent of believing that there must be universal education before introducing universal suffrage. Along with Mill, William Edward Leckey felt that voters in taxation matters should be the taxpayers alone. In the language of Leckey- “The assembly which votes the taxes, either general or local, should be elected exclusively by those who pay something towards the taxes imposed.” It will be squandering public money if the non-taxpayers have a say in the tax legislations. So here we find that education and property are the two requisite qualifications for an elector.
The third line of argument is that if the masses without any restrictions are allowed to decide an issues on the state affairs it would mean suicide for the nation, because the ignorant and illiterate people cannot understand the art of politics and cannot elect the proper candidates.
It was Plato who was the first to say that only the philosophers can rule the state and he excluded the appetitive class like the cultivators and artisans from political functions. Aristotle also did not include the slaves in the list of the citizens and they were not given any right to vote. The real danger in granting the right to vote to the illiterate and ignorant people is that they will be easily played in the hands of the demagogues and will sell their votes for other selfish gains.
The fourth line of argument is that women should not have the suffrage because politics will vitiate the family atmosphere and at the same time will deprive the home of the best services by the ladies of the house.
The argument further goes that if the husband and the wife hold opposite political views, the home will become a hot scene of political debates. In any case, the women with voting rights are prone to neglect their homely duties. Even in a most progressive country like England the women had no right to vote until 1918. It came “to other developed countries only after another decade, i.e., 1928. “
The argument against universal suffrage are more academic than real. With the spread of education and improvement of the material life of the people and with the agencies of the public opinion increasingly geared up, the universal adult franchise is the accepted creed all over the world today.
Education or property is no longer a prerequisite for getting the voting right. It is all the more untenable to assume that women are less capable than their male counterpart in public affairs. All these theories are to be discarded as false and imaginary.
Qualifying Factors or Conditions Necessary for Suffrage:
There is a school of political philosophers headed by John Stuart Mill, William Edward Leckey and Sir Henry Maine that insists on certain conditions like education, property, payment of taxes, residence, age, sex, etc. as the criterion to get or not the right to vote. These are discussed below under two heads, namely acceptable grounds and unacceptable grounds.
Acceptable Grounds for Granting the Right to Vote:
1. Residence and citizenship:
The right to vote should be given to the citizens alone. The foreigners who are called the aliens should not be included in the voters’ list. Thus a person who is a citizen of the state and who owes his allegiance to the state, can exercise his franchise. This is all the more necessary for the security of the state and the integration of the land. It will also be reasonable to insist on a person’s residence in the state for certain period of time to be entitled to cast votes in the election.
Another reasonable criterion to grant voting right or not is the age of the person. If the person is a minor, he cannot understand his own welfare and so it will be too much to expect from him the idea of the general welfare. In different countries the voting age is different. In the USA it is 21. In India and England one is eligible to cast his vote at the age of 18.
3. Moral and mental qualifications:
It is logical and natural that only morally and mentally sound persons can exercise franchise. From this it follows that the bankrupts and the criminals are to be excluded from the voting right, because they are engrossed in trouble for existence and cannot afford to take an active interest in the affairs of the state. Similarly, the lunatics and idiots will misuse the right of voting and so they are also not eligible.
Unacceptable Grounds for Granting Franchise:
Certain political thinkers headed by John Stuart Mill advanced the argument that only the educated persons should be given the right to vote. He had paramount consideration for education in the life of the citizens. He went to the extent of saying- “Universal teaching must precede universal enfranchisement.”
It is true that education is an advantage for all the citizens for enlightening themselves in the art and science of public life. But it cannot be an essential qualification for every citizen to be educated to get the right to cast his vote in the elections. Uneducated voters are found to be very intelligent to understand whom to vote in the elections.
It has not been proved in practice that illiteracy is an handicap in -electoral participation. As a matter of fact, there can be no education test for political fitness.
The function of the electorate is to choose the government on the basis of broad politics which each citizen can understand. Although the Indian masses are in general illiterate, they have exercised their right to vote properly and have made democracy work successfully.
It will be unfair to disenfranchise some people on the ground that they are not educated. In that case they will remain second class citizens without the right to vote. It will not be a democratic state but a class state, rather an instrument of the educated ones.
There are some political thinkers who believe that property should be a qualification to hold the right to vote in the elections. Edmund Burke was a frontline supporter of this theory. Their argument is that if a person has some property he will have sufficient leisure to devote to public life. A pauper cannot discharge this function effectively because he will be too busy in earning his bare necessities of life.
This idea is wrong because the riches have nothing to do with political acumen. It is all the same an unkind suggestion to include persons in the voters’ list by counting the income of the citizens. This will draw a discriminating line between the haves and the have-nots.
This will thereby run counter to the spirit of democracy. If democracy is to be government by the people, it is imperative that every citizen must have a share in the formulation of the state policies and laws.
If only the affluent section of the state is allowed to vote, the major chunk of the population will be disenfranchised and thereby we will go to the days of Plato and Aristotle who did not include the slaves in the category of the citizens.
If democracy is a government by the people, none can be denied that privilege simply because he does not hold some property. Thus property as a factor in elections must be banished from the books of political science.
3. Payment of taxes:
There is another school of philosophers who believe that only those who pay tax to the government should alone be entitled to become voters. John Stuart Mill and William Edward Leckey are the staunch advocates of this opinion. Those who do not pay any tax should not be allowed to vote, lest they would lavishly squander the public money.
According to Leckey:
“The assembly which votes the taxes, either general or local, should be elected exclusively by those who pay something towards the taxes imposed.”
This notion too cannot be accepted. If tax is only the basis of inclusion or exclusion of a person in the list of voters, we shall push ourselves back to the medieval feudalism. In a modern state every-body may not pay income-tax, but pays some taxes indirectly to the government like school fees, cinema tickets or on purchase of the taxable commodities.
So there is no reason to insist on payment of income-tax as a ground for the entitlement to cast votes in the elections.
It is an old idea that women should not embroil themselves in politics or cast vote in the elections, because there are some inherent disabilities associated with them. It is argued that women have a special role to play in the home and in the kitchen and must devote to the rearing of their children and helping their husbands as the junior partners in the household.
If they are dragged to the polling booth, who will look after the home? Politics is for the men, maternity is for the women. It is also said that women are bodily not fit to render military service to the nation and as such they should have no right to vote.
This theory must be dashed to the ground. Women are neither for the sole purpose of rearing children nor their participation in politics destroys peace at home. Disenfranchising a person on the ground of weaker sex does not have much appeal because casting of votes after four or five years cannot in any way disturb the household routine of a woman.
On the other hand, according to John Stuart Mill, a female franchise adds to female prestige in the family and the political education of the family. There are many instances that wife and husband belong to different political parties.
Yet, the peace at home is not lost. It is also not correct that the women are disabled to perform military services. There are many instances in history of the rare heroism of the women in the battlefields. They were in the frontline of national freedom struggle. So denying the franchise to the fair six is a bogus idea.
Essay # 6. Womanhood Suffrage:
A controversy rages among the political thinkers as to whether woman suffrage is justifiable or not. There are arguments on this topic both in favour and against the theory.
Arguments in Favour of Womanhood Suffrage:
The first line of argument in favour of womanhood suffrage is that inclusion of woman along with the man will be in consonance with the spirit of democracy. If woman is not given the voting right, the woman will become second class citizens. This will disenfranchise half the population. Man will rule over woman.
This is opposed to the spirit of democracy, because it will degenerate into subordination of woman to man. Power must be shared by those who were kept out of its territory in the past in the world dominated by men, otherwise how can there be progress in human civilisation?
The second line of argument is that it is illogical and irrational to deny the woman the right to vote. The right to vote has no nexus with biological composition but is germane to the intellectual and moral capacities. John Stuart Mill is of the view that franchise is more important for the women, because they, being physically weaker than men, have to rely for their protection more upon the law and the society.
The third line of argument in favour of the womanhood suffrage is that it is in line with the principle of equality. Today women are taking part in all walks of life. They are equal to men in all spheres of life. If the women are excluded from suffrage on grounds of sex only it will run counter to the principle of equality, this will place them under the subjugation of men.
This happened in the past when the women were unprotected by legislations. A bad thing of the past should not be encouraged for the present.
The fourth line of argument is that women in all countries of the world enjoy civil rights and the enjoyment of civil rights cannot be perfect and complete if they have no political rights. If the civil rights are like the socks of the feet, the political rights arc like the shoes of the feet. One wears socks only to wear the shoes.
The latter is an essential guarantee of the former. Similarly, political rights arc the subsequent guarantee of the civil rights. So it is in the fitness of things that the women who are enjoying civil rights will be allowed to have political rights as well. This will pull them out from the domination by men.
The fifth line of argument is that if the women are given the right to vote the soothing female angel will make the laws of the land more sober, more noble and more purifying. Whatever a woman touches becomes modest and gentle. This is bound to happen not only in the household but in the public life too.
A touch of woman will make politics a nobler one. It is seen that where there is woman-hood suffrage there is a flow of noble legislation banning child labour, prohibition, as well as labour and factory welfare measures.
Arguments against Womanhood Suffrage:
The first line of argument against womanhood suffrage is that a woman is called upon to play the role of a soothing angel of the home. Maternity should be the chief concern of her life and so politics will rob her of her female role. Home rather than politics should be her mission in life. Her participation in active politics will result in the neglect of her home and her children.
According to the BJP leader K. R. Malkani:
“They cannot be active in politics because of their household work – they have to cook, clean and look after their children.”
This argument is not tenable because casting vote in elections which takes place after about five years or so has got nothing to affect the home life of a woman.
The second line of argument of the opponent of the womanhood suffrage is that if women participate in politics, this will disturb the homely peace that exists between the wife and the husband. If the wife holds a political opinion contrary to that of her husband they will quarrel with each other.
If the wife holds an identical view with her husband, it will be sheer duplication and wastage of time and labour. But this argument is not acceptable. On the other hand, female franchise helps political education in the family and adds to the prestige of the women members in the family.
The third line of argument is that women by nature are not capable of competing with men. Since the women are physically weaker than their male counterparts, they are not in a position to take up harder and tougher works in real political field and so they cannot be given the same kind of job as given to the men.
Their bodily capacity being separate, they should be given separate treatment. This may superficially look nice. But, in reality, women like men, are in a position to do all kinds of jobs. We do not see them doing all kinds of job because they are not given the opportunity to do so. As a matter of fact, they may lake an effective role in all avenues of life.
The fourth line of argument is that since the women who were given political rights in many countries showed indifference to it, they cannot be given the privilege of casting votes in the elections. If they have the right to vote, they will either refrain from going to the polling booth to cast their votes or misuse the votes by negligence.
This is a too conservative suggestion. One may not take active interest in each and every political right. It does not mean that every-time the negligence will be there in using franchise.
The extreme view is given by Arnold Toynbee:
“In history of the age of disintegration were usually the ages when the women had left the home.”
The arguments against womanhood suffrage are imaginary and not genuine. All progressive countries of the world have profited by granting suffrage to the women. Men and women are like two wheels of a chariot. The chariot cannot move if both the wheels do not function with equal speed.
So a state cannot prosper or progress if both men and women do not form equal partnership. So our conclusion is that there should be suffrage for the women. In fine, universal adult suffrage is the most acceptable model for all democratic countries of the world.
Essay # 7. Proportional Representation:
The proportional representation is a method for adequate representation of the minorities in the legislature. This device is adopted to remove the anomaly inherent in a single member constituency where the minorities are not properly represented.
It so happens in a single member constituency that the party which has a bare majority occupies almost all the seats in the legislature, though that party has not got the majority of the total votes cast in the election.
Under the usual system sometimes a candidate who has secured only 25 per cent of the total votes is declared elected, though 75 per cent of the total votes have been cast in favour of other candidates. In England and USA a party that obtains only 40 per cent of the total votes gets into power to the exclusion of 60 per cent of the total votes drawn by the other parties.
This is undemocratic and irrational. Criticising the existing system of election, John Stuart Mill said:
“In a really equal democracy every and any section would be represented not disproportionately, but proportionately.”
This can be done by a different method of election called the proportional representation.
The idea of the proportional representation was first mooted in the French National Convention of 1793. It was buttressed into a doctrine by the Danish Finance Minister Carl Andrae in 1856 and the English political thinker Thomas Hare in 1858. It got an wide acceptance in the hands of John Stuart Mill who recommended it as the best method of electing the members of the legislature.
According to Mill, a majority of voters will have majority of the representatives but a minority of the voters will have always a minority of the representatives.
Merits of Proportional Representation:
The supporters of proportional representation advocate it on the ground that it provides for the representation of minorities.
Demerits of Proportional Representation:
First, the most glaring defect of the system is that it tends to produce a large number of small parties in the representative chambers, each incapable of forming government by itself.
Secondly and corollary to it is that it leads to coalition between parties and formation of a coalition government which is unstable and of very short duration.
John Major, the Prime Minister of England, on the eve of the 9 April 1992 General Elections, rejected the Labour Party’s plea for proportional representation in England:
“Much damage has been done to France, Italy and Germany by the proportional representation. I do not want such in England.”
Thirdly, with larger constituencies the personal link between the representatives and the members of his constituency is much reduced and inroaded and the representative becomes more a delegate of his party and less representative of his constituency, irrespective of their political views.
Methods of Proportional Representation:
There are five different methods? By which the proportional representation can be achieved. These are discussed below:
1. The preferential system or the single transferable vote system:
It is also know as the Hare system or Andrae system. This system is in vogue in the Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This is also resorted to in Belgium, Portugal and Ireland. This is in practice in India in the election of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament, the Vidhan Parishad, the upper house of the state legislatures, in the election of the President and Vice-President.
The single transferable vote has been adopted in Australia for its House of Commons and in a small number of cities in the USA for municipal elections.
In a single member constituency under the transferable vote system the voter, instead of making his choice by a cross, puts 1, 2, 3 etc. in order of choice against the candidate. The returning officer excludes the candidates with the lower number of votes and distributes their votes to the remaining candidates according to the preference shown in the ballot papers.
The method is worked out in the following way:
(a) Every constituency must elect more than two members.
(b) From among the names of the candidates printed on the ballot paper, a voter has only one effective vote which may be cast in order or preference, i.e., first, second, third or as many preferences as there are seats to be filled.
(c) There is a minimum quota which every successful candidate must obtain. The quota is obtained by dividing the total votes cast by the number of seats to be filled in plus one and add one to the quotient.
The following is the example of this formula:
If there are 4 seats in a constituency and
If the number of votes cast is 100, the quota will be:
(d) To begin the calculation, the votes cast as the first preference will be taken up. If a candidate secures the prescribed quota of votes, he will be declared elected. If he has any surplus votes, these will be transferred to the second preference indicated on the ballot papers.
Now, with the addition of second preference votes so transferred, some of the candidates will get the prescribed quota and they will be declared elected.
If all the candidates cannot get elected with the help of the second preference votes so transferred, helps will be taken of the third preference votes.
It may so happen that some candidates obtain a very small number of votes in the first preference and there is no chance of their being elected with the votes to be transferred, their first preference votes will be transferred to the second choice indicated on the ballot papers. In this method all the votes will stand utilised.
2. The party list system:
This is another method of proportional representation. It is known as the party list system, because all the candidates are grouped together in lists on the basis of their party affiliations. The voter will primarily vote for a party list and then show his second preference as dictated to him by the party leadership. This system obtains in Switzerland.
The party list system functions in a large constituency. So this operates in a constituency having at least three lakh voters and having at least five seats. Each party will produce its list of candidates and the voter will mark his ballot-papers with 1, 2, 3 .etc. against the candidates of his choice.
The candidates with lowest number of votes will be eliminated and their votes redistributed among the remaining candidates according to the preference shown in the ballot papers. France introduced proportional representation in 1945 on a party list system based on department as a unit, but the system was modified in 1951 to give the Gaullists and Communists less than their proportional share.
After seven years in 1958 France reverted to the second ballot system when an absolute majority was not obtained.
The formula works in the following way:
(a) There must be more than two members in a constituency.
(b) Every political party will give a list of its candidates in each constituency.
(c) A voter will cast one vote or as many votes as there are seats to be filled in.
(d) In order to be declared elected, a candidate must obtain certain quota of votes which is determinable by dividing the total votes cast by the total number of seats to be filled in.
(e) A political party will be entitled to those seats on the calculation of dividing the total number of votes secured by the party by the prescribed quota. The fractional votes are transferable to and from other constituencies.
3. Limited vote plan:
It works under the following conditions. There should be at least three members in the constituency. Each voter will have only one vote to cast for one candidate. A voter may cast a smaller number of votes than there are seats to be filled in.
Thus in a five member constituency a voter may cast four votes for four candidates. If this method is worked out, a minority party is sure to get one seat, because there is in excess of votes not cast in favour of any party.
4. Cumulative method:
This is a system in which a voter can cast as many votes as there are seats to be filled in. This can be done by way of casting all votes in favour of one candidate or in favour of all the candidates. The accumulating right in favour of a single candidate will enable the minority party to bank on the strength of the votes so accumulated in favour of the minority party. In this way, the minority may get a berth in the election.
5. Reservation of seats:
This is a very simple device of earmarking some seats for the minorities on the consideration that in an open election the minorities cannot win. In the constitution of India there are certain seats reserved for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes only. In such reserved seats only the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates can contest the election.
In this way, the representation of the minorities is guaranteed in Indian legislature. Similarly, in the Lok Sabha, which is the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the President can nominate 12 members from the Anglo-Indian communities if the President is of the opinion that the Anglo-Indian communities have not been adequately represented. Thus it is a very simple way of securing the representation of the minorities.