European Elections Voting System

How the European Election Voting System Works:

 The Voting:

Electors vote for a Party, each Party provides a region-wide list of candidates, these are listed in descending order of likelihood of being elected (see Counting section below); there may also be Independent single candidates – but none in the North West this time.

You just have one vote, as in 'first past the post' – there is no transferable aspect.

 The Counting:

 Votes are counted by Party, to give a total number of votes (again as in a 'first past the post' election); then a mathematical process is applied (the d'Hondt method – named after the relatively famous Belgian who devised the rules).

I've done the example below on percentages rather than actual numbers of votes, as it's probably more meaningful to people who look at opinion polls.

 Example: Party A has 30% of the vote

Party B has 24% of the vote

Party C has 15.5% of the vote

Party D has 9% of the vote

Party E has 7% of the vote

The remaining 14.5% are allocated among several smaller Parties all of whom have less than 7%

There are 8 seats to be allocated (this is the number for the North West)

 

The process begins: Who will be allocated the first seat?:

Party A has the most votes, they get the first seat.

Party A's vote is then divided by the number of seats they have plus 1; they have 1 seat, 1+1 = 2, so their quotient is now 30/2 = 15%

 Second seat:

Comparison is Party A 15%, Party B 24%, Party C 15.5% (others as before): Party B therefore gets the second seat.

Party B's vote is now divided by the number of seats they have plus 1; 1+1 = 2 so their quotient is now 24/2 = 12%

 Third seat:

Comparison is Party A 15%, Party B 12%, Party C 15.5% (others as before): Party C is now top, so they get the third seat.

Party C's vote is now divided by 2, so their quotient is now 7.75%

 So after 3 seats allocated, Parties A, B and C each have one seat.

 Fourth seat:

Comparison is now Party A 15%, Party B 12%, Party C 7.75%, Party D 9%, Party E 7%

Party A come out top and they get the fourth seat.

Party A's original percentage (which was 30% remember), is now divided by number of seats they have (2) + 1, so their quotient is now 30/3 = 10%

 So after 4 seats allocated, Party A has 2 seats, Parties B and C have one each.

 Fifth seat:

Comparison is now Party A 10%, Party B 12%, Party C 7.75%, Party D 9%, Party E 7%

Party B get the fifth seat

Their quotient is now 24 (original percentage) / 2 (number of seats) +1, i.e. 24/3 = 8

 So after 5 seats allocated, Party A and B have 2 seats, Party C has one

 Sixth seat:

Comparison is now Party A 10%, Party B 8%, Party C 7.75%, Party D 9%, Party E 7%

Party A get the third seat.

Their quotient is now 30 (original percentage) / 3 (number of seats) +1, i.e. 30/4 = 7.5

 So after 6 seats allocated Party A has 3 seats, Party B has 2 seats, Party C has one seat

 Seventh seat:

Comparison is now Party A 7.5%, Party B 8%, Party C 7.75%, Party D 9%, Party E 7%

Party D gets the seventh seat

Their quotient is now 9 (original percentage) / 1 (number of seats) + 1, i.e. 9/2 = 4.5

 Eighth seat:

Comparison is now Party A 7.5%, Party B 8%, Party C 7.75%, Party D 4.5%, Party E 7%

Party B gets the eight seat.

 

Therefore the final outcome is:

Party A 30% 3 seats

Party B 24% 3 seats

Party C 15.5% 1 seat

Party D 9% 1 seat

Party E 7% no seats

other Parties no seats.

 Implications for Tactical Voting:

 In a region of 8 seats, Parties need multiples of around 8-9% to win seats.

 A Party which was on, say, 7.7% would only need an increase of around 1 percentage point to win a seat (leaving 7 instead of 8 to be shared between the other Parties standing)

 In the above example, Party A would have needed another 2+% percentage points to get a 4th seat,

Party B on the other hand would have needed a whole 8% extra percentage points to gain another seat. The vote share between Parties A, B and C could be split several ways, but in each case the average additional vote share required to get an extra seat will be well over 2%.