Party-list proportional representation

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A voting system used in multiple-seat elections, emphasizing proportional representation. This system is not used by itself very often, but is often used as a hybrid with other systems to encourage proportionality. This is how it is used in Germany.


Each voter selects their preferred party. Parties have pre-determined, ordered lists of candidates.

Counting the Votes

Seats are alloted proportionally to the percent of the vote each party received. For each party, the top n members from the party list are elected, where n is the number of seats they have been allotted. In some systems, there is a minimum percentage of the vote a party needs in order to have any representation. See 5-percent-clause

An Example

30 voters, 4 seats.

  • 15 voters vote for Party A
  • 8 voters vote for Party B
  • 7 voters vote for Party C

The top two members on Party A's list are elected; the top members on each of Party B and Party C's lists are elected.


This system is fairly proportional. However, because of the bottleneck of running through party lists, organic coalitions of voters can not form. Voters must select between the coalitions that have already formed into parties.

Potential for Tactical Voting

There is little potential for tactical voting at the final vote. In systems with high thresholds for receiving seats, there is some incentive to avoid parties that are not viable enough to reach that threshold. However, this is a much lower threshold to get over than having to be a viable candidate to win the entire election.

There is enormous potential for tactical voting, though, in determing which candidates make the party list. The lists are determined by a subset of all voters (usually the voters in the party), so these votesr must constantly reconcile what desire in a candidate and their desire to attract a large number of voters from outside the party.