The majority of national elections on earth elect a legislature, which is the political science word for Congress, or Parliament. Unlike the United States, where the leader is a seperate entitlement from Congress, in many European nations, the leader is a Minister of Parliament, either his party's head, or elected by his party, normally known as Prime Minister. The party holding the most seats wins the Parliament, then they, in turn, elect the Prime Minister to lead the Parliament.
There are basically two types of electoral systems in use worldwide, single member district plurality, and multi-member district plurality. These are big words which each, in the examination of it's parts, conveys a lot of information, if you know where to look.
Let's take some familiar concept, and work it out so that the terminologies lose their mystery.
The United States has two political parties, (do not tell Jesse Ventura I said that shit about "only two parties", ok?)
So, we have a limited number of parties to choose from, and those party's platforms and causcuses, etc, are all very well-defined. Since we are choosing from one of two parties, we use, in the United States, a single member electoral process.
Plurality is a word that tells how the voters ballots are quantified, which is ususally by a district by district count. The candidate who gets the most plurality wins. Therefore, in single member district plurality, we elect the man.
|This is an example of single member district plurality, in which the election is of the man. These are rare in Europe, and are normally relegated to run-off elections.|
In mult-member district plurality, we have a mulitiplicity of candidates, one for each party and each seat that is up for grabs. So, rather than electing the man, in many electoral districts in Europe, and ten state legislative elections (state congressional elections) in the United States, we elect the party, and not the man. And very often, the number of candidates on the ballot are equal to the number of seats up for grabs.
Due to the large number of parties in European political systems, multi member district plurality is just more suitable for general legislative elections.
Switzerland has a comparatively larger number of political parties when considered in terms of it's size. Such parties include the Swiss Automobile Party, whose focus is the protection of the constitutional right Swiss people have to drive cars. As you see, this type of system allows for special interests to be overseen with a whole lot more political transparency.
|This is an example of one of the American multi member district plurality ballots. Note the vote is cast for the party, and there are as many votes to cast as there are seats up for grabs.|
Almost every nation on earth quantifies plurality in a system called, "first past the post". What this means is that when either the majority of votes go for a candidate, or a percentile of the population of a district has awarded a higher number of votes for the seat that is up for grabs, then that party, or that candidate is the winner because he is first past the post.
But a few national elections in Europe, for instance, the French ones this Sunday, began as a multi seat four way ballot, and the highest number of votes AND the second highest now have a run-off election, which now becomes a single member district plurality style of election.
Many European electorates are multimember district plurality systems of electorate, with a minimum percentile required by law for any one party to win one seat in Parliament. So, a party is actually a party of people who get together and complain, until they win a small percentile of the census, or electorate.
In the future, soon, I will explain coalition governments, systems, and the fine points of how things get done using them.
Thanks for not listening...