Abstract or Introduction
This essay aims to explain the differences between preferential and proportional
systems of voting and the consequences of these systems in Australia. The
electoral system of Germany is examined in comparison.
Why are electoral systems so important? Through elections, citizens of a county
can express their views and choose the government they wish to see in power.
Therefore, the electoral system is one of the significant features of a democracy
and a representative government. The political outcome of an election can vary
greatly depending on which of the different types (and/or variations of each type)
of systems is in effect. Hence, the organisation of the political system strongly
depends on the electoral system.1
The impacts of electoral systems on the political and party system will be
examined after looking at the two systems of voting used in Australia at the
Commonwealth/ Federal level: the preferential voting system and the system of
Preferential voting in single-member seats is used for elections for the House of
Representatives and is also often referred to as Alternative Vote.2 A distinctive
feature of this voting system is that the winning candidate needs to receive an
absolute majority of the primary vote, in other words 50% plus one. Alternatively,
the candidate can win the election by securing an absolute majority after the
distribution of preferences. 3
Under a system of full preferential voting, electors must indicate a preference for
all candidates listed on the ballot paper. Voters show their first preference by
giving the number “1” to their preferred candidate. They then rank all other
candidates by distributing the remaining numbers in descending order from 2 to X
(X = the number of candidates taking part in the election).
In the first round of counting votes, the numbers of primary votes are registered. [...]
1 David W. Lovell et al., The Australian Political System, (2nd edition), Longman, South
Melbourne, 1998, p. 269.
2 Ben Reilly, ‘The Alternative Vote in Australia’, 6 March 1999, Electoral Systems,
Administration and Cost of Elections Project, <http://www.aceproject.org/main/english/es/>,
consulted 2 June 2003
- Quote paper
- Anke Bartl (Author), 2003, Electoral systems in Australia and Germany - a comparative study, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/17701