Within parliamentary elections, there are nine major electoral systems in use around the world, as categorized in the International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design. Among them, the System in which a proportion of the parliament (usually half) is elected from plurality majority districts while the remaining members are chosen from PR lists is called ‘mixed-member proportional representation’ (MMP). Under MMP the PR seats compensate for any disproportionality produced by the district seat result.
German federal election uses two-ballot mixed electoral systems, which is a typical MMP system. It includes a single-member district tier, where only the candidate who garners a plurality of the candidate votes wins, and a PR tier. The PR tier offers even small party lists a chance to gain representation in the Bundestag if they get more than 5 % of all party votes nationally. Party votes are aggregated on the national level and determine the party seat shares in parliament. Germany is, therefore, considered a compensatory mixed system because – through a seat linkage – the PR tier does compensate the disproportionality of the plurality tier. Germany have constituencies where about half of the members in parliament are selected by closed party lists to correct partisan imbalances resulting from the election of electorate candidates by plurality rules.
1. For the Pattern of Electoral Turnout
A number of empirical studies find that disproportionality reduces turnout and this finding is consistent with the assumption that an unequal translation of votes into seats diminishes some people’s sense of political efficacy leading them to abstain. Disproportionality may also influence participation in other ways. Disproportional outcomes may influence participation by shaping the strategies of parties and their candidates. Parties may campaign more actively when their chances of gaining representation improve.
Because plurality elections give all the spoils to the single candidate who receives the most votes, the potential decisiveness of a vote for a minor party or non-competitive candidate is largely minimized. On the other hand, in PR systems, where the proportion of votes gained by a party is more closely related to the share of seats that party receives, all votes could potentially be decisive in determining the number of seats a party gains in parliament. Past research has, therefore, assumed, that the disproportionality between seats and votes in plurality systems instills in voters a sense that their vote is wasted if not cast for a viable candidate. This lack of efficacy contributes to comparatively lower rates of participation in plurality systems than in PR systems. PR advocates often cite its potential for increasing citizen efficacy and engagement in politics as one of the fundamental benefits of PR over plurality or first past the post (FPP) systems. PR rules can be seen as more “fair” when compared to FPP systems because they reduce the...