Electoral system in which the share of seats held by a political party in the legislature closely matches the share of popular votes it received. It was devised in Europe in the mid-19th century to guarantee minority groups more representation than was possible under the majority or plurality systems. Its supporters claim that it creates a more accurate reflection of public opinion; its opponents argue that by allowing more parties in a legislature, it may result in weaker, less stable governments. Two methods for apportioning seats are the single-transferable-vote method, under which voters rank candidates by preference, and the list system, under which voters select a party's list of candidates rather than individuals. Some countries (e.g., Germany and Russia) use a combination of plurality and proportional methods for allocating seats in the lower house of the national legislature. See also legislative apportionment.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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