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Proportional Representation by John H. Humphreys

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full result sheet.

_The fairness of the result._

The fairness of this method of voting is at once apparent. Each group of
electors as large as a quota secured a representative. The Liberals were
in a very large majority, and with the block system and probably with
the single-member system would have nominated five candidates and have
obtained all five seats. In this election the two smaller groups, the
Unionist and Labour parties, each returned one member. The voters did
not, in recording their preferences, restrict themselves to candidates
of one party, but nevertheless, it will be of interest to compare the
seats gained with the strength of parties as indicated by the first
preferences. The party vote disclosed in the first count was as

Votes polled.
Liberal 12,244
Unionist 6,868
Labour 3,660
Total 21,672

The quota was 3613, and these totals show that the

Liberals obtained 3 quotas with 1405 votes over and gained 3 seats.
Unionists obtained 1 quota with 2265 votes over and gained 1 seat.
Labour obtained 1 quota less 53 votes and gained 1 seat.


No. of Votes,--21,672.

No. of Seats--5.

Quota = (21,672/6) + 1 = 3613

Col 1: First Count
Col 2: Transfer of surplus votes (Asquith's)
Col 3: Result
Col 4: Transfer of Surplus Votes (Bafour)
Col 5: Result
Col 6: Transfer of Surplus Votes (Lloyd George)
Col 7: Result

Names of Candidates. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Asquith, The Rt.Hon.H.H. 9,042-5,429 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613

Balfour, The Rt.Hon.A.J. 4,478 -- 4,478-865 3,613 -- 3,613

Burl, The Rt. Hon. Thomas. 260 +282 542 +12 554+1,239 1,793

Cecil, Lord Hugh 400 +79 539+195 734 +88 822

Henderson, Arthur 1,038 +157 1,195 +3 1,198 +834 2,032

Jone, Leif 191 +157 297 +2 299+1,097 1,396

Joynson-Hicks, W. 94 +10 104 +52 156 +11 167

Lloyd George, The Rt.Hon.D. 2,751+4,704 7,455 -- 7,455-3,842 3,613

Long, The Rt.Hon. Walter H. 672 +27 699+520 1,225 +57 1,282

Macdonald, J. Ramsay 2,124 +30 2,154 +5 2,159 +228 2,387

Shackleton, David 398 +21 419 +2 421 +202 683

Smith, F.E. 184 +9 173 +65 238 +20 258

Votes lost through
neglect of fractions - +4 4 +3 7 +6 13

Preferences Exhausted - - - - -- -- --

Totals 21,072 - 21,672 -- 21,672 -- 21,672

Col 8: Transfer of votes (J Hicks and Smiths)
Col 9: Result
Col 10: Transfer of Votes Shackleston's)
Col 11: Result
Col 12: Transfer of Votes (cecil's)
Col 13: Result
Col 14: Transfer of Votes (L.Jones)
Col 15: Results
Col 16: Transfer of Votes (Long's)
Col 17: Final Result.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

Asquith -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 E

Balfour -- 3,013 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 E

Burl. +21 1,814 +89 1,903+122 2,025 +658 2,683 +370 3,053 E

Cecil +88 908 +18 923-926 -- -- -- -- --

Henderson +14 2,046+233 2,270 +49 2,328 +501 2,829 +81 2,910

Jone +12 1,408 +57 1,465 +35 1,500-1,500 -- -- --

Joynson-Hicks 167 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Lloyd George -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 -- 3,613 E

Long +233 1,505 +8 1,513+490 2,003 +32 2,035-2,035 --

Macdonald +21 2,408+252 2,680 +48 2,708 +143 2,851 +87 2,938 E

Shackleton +19 702-702 -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Smith -258 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Votes lost -- 13 -- 13 -- 13 -- 13 -- 13

Exhausted +29 29 +45 74+182 256 +166 422+1,497 1,919

Totals -- 21,672 -- 21,672 -- 21,672 -- 21,672 --21,672

This result is as fair as is possible, and would have been equally
attained if, as would probably be the case in a real election, there had
been but little cross voting. The total results in the Tasmanian General
Election, 1909 (six-member constituencies) showed an exact proportion
between the votes polled and the seats gained by the respective

_Improved arrangements in the Transvaal elections._

The arrangements made at the model election were adopted by the Chief
Electoral Officer of Tasmania,[16] and were also adopted by the
returning officers of Pretoria and Johannesburg. Experience has shown
that some improvements in details can be made. Both at Pretoria and
Johannesburg less work was done at the returning officer's table. The
counters were placed more directly arrangements under the
superintendence of the returning officer's assistants, and the final
totals of each operation were ascertained at the counters' tables. When
the ballot boxes were brought in by the presiding officers of the
polling stations with a return of the votes they contained, the
returning officer handed them one by one to superintendents who took
them to that section of the counting force over which they had charge.
The counters ascertained the number of papers in each ballot box. The
superintendents reported the total number to the returning officer, and
if this number agreed with the presiding officer's return the ballot box
and contents were handed back to the returning officer. After the
contents of all the ballot boxes had been verified and the grand total
of votes ascertained, all the papers were emptied into one box and were
well mixed. The papers were then sorted at a central table, as in the
election already described; the superintendent took the papers to the
counters, each of whom ascertained the number of votes for that
candidate whose papers he had been deputed to count. The superintendents
brought a statement of the totals for each candidate to the returning
officer, and if the aggregate of these figures did not agree with the
number of ballot papers distributed to the sorters a fresh count was
ordered. The elections at Johannesburg and Pretoria demonstrated that
the requisite accuracy in counting could be easily attained. The
operations were characterized with remarkable precision. There was no
error in the counting of the votes at Pretoria during the whole of the
operations, and the same remark holds good of Johannesburg, save that
one ballot paper which had been accidentally torn was omitted to be
counted. The two pieces had been pinned together, and the paper, which
in consequence had been rendered shorter than the others, was
overlooked. The omission was quickly discovered, and no other error
took place during the whole of the proceedings. The various counting
processes check one another. Any errors occurring in the earlier
operations are thrown out in the course of the subsequent proceedings,
for the totals of the votes at the conclusion of each operation must
agree with the total shown at the commencement of the count. In another
feature the organization of the Transvaal elections might be copied. All
spoilt or doubtful papers were brought to the returning officer's table
by his assistants, and were not examined until the conclusion of the
first count. The whole of these papers were then gone through by the
returning officer, who decided the question of their validity in the
presence of the candidates or their representatives. The returning
officer also examined all papers which were treated as "exhausted," but
this work might have been deputed to the assistant returning

_Criticisms of the single transferable vote._

After reviewing the whole of the evidence submitted to them, the Royal
Commission on Electoral Systems reported that "of schemes for producing
proportional representation we think that the transferable vote will
have the best chance of ultimate acceptance," but the Report contains
some criticisms of its mechanism which demand consideration. These
criticisms are directed to two points: (1) the effect of later
preferences in deciding the result of an election; (2) the process of
eliminating candidates at the bottom of the poll.

_Effect of late preferences._

The Royal Commission express the opinion that late preferences may have
an undue weight in deciding the result of an election. But the
Commissioners seem to have been unnecessarily alarmed in this matter. A
careful analysis of the preferences recorded in the Tasmanian elections
was made by a Committee appointed for the purpose by the Tasmanian
Government. This Committee ascertained that the comparative values of
the various preferences in determining the result of the election were
as follows:--

1st preference .739
2nd .140
3rd .051
4th .029
5th .014
6th .008
7th .009
8th .008
9th .003

In other words 73.9 per cent, first preferences became effective votes,
14.0 per cent, second preferences became effective votes, and so on.
These figures show the great superiority in value of the earlier
preferences, and this superiority was also seen in the Transvaal
elections. In Pretoria 68 per cent, of the first preferences were
directly effective in returning candidates, in Johannesburg 67.5 per
cent. Second preferences primarily come into play in favour of
candidates of similar complexion to the candidates first chosen, and
when, as is possible in the last resort, a vote is passed on in support
of a candidate of a different party, this is no more than the
Commissioners themselves approve and recommend for adoption in the case
of three or more candidates standing for a single seat. The difference
between the effect of the final transfers under a system of proportional
representation and of transfers under the system recommended by the
Commission is that in the first case they might determine the character
of one out of five or more members representing a constituency, in the
other they might affect the representation of each of the five or more
divisions into which the constituency would be divided.

_The elimination of candidates from the bottom of the poll._

The second criticism concerns the elimination of candidates. It is
sometimes contended that it is unfair to eliminate the candidate at the
bottom of the poll, because had he remained longer in the contest he
might have received at the next stage a considerable amount of support.
Taking an extreme case, the candidate at the bottom of the poll may
have been so generally popular as to have been the second choice of the
majority of the electors. This is theoretically conceivable, but it does
not conform to the facts of elections. The principle of eliminating a
candidate at the bottom of the poll is not peculiar to the single
transferable vote. When a constituency returns but one member and there
are three candidates, and it is desired by means of the second ballot to
ensure the election of the candidate who commands the support of the
majority of the electors, the candidate lowest on the poll is eliminated
and a second ballot is held to decide between the claims of the
remaining two candidates. In such a case it is conceivable that the
candidate lowest on the poll may have been more acceptable to the
majority of the electors than the candidate finally selected. But the
system of the single transferable vote with constituencies returning
several members diminishes very considerably any such possibility. In
the first place, the candidate to be successful need only obtain a much
smaller proportion of the total number of votes than in a single-member
constituency. In the latter he must poll just over one-half before he is
safe from defeat; in a seven-member constituency if he polls one-eighth
he will escape this fate. The candidate who has a reasonable proportion
of support, therefore, stands less chance of being excluded. In the
second place no candidate is excluded until after the transfer of all
surplus votes has been completed. If, in a constituency returning
several members, a candidate, after the transfer of all surplus votes,
is still at the bottom of the poll, the facts would seem to indicate
that he was not even the second favourite of any considerable number of
electors. The preferences actually given in elections show how little
force this criticism possesses. The table below was prepared by the
Committee appointed by the Tasmanian Government. It shows the result of
an examination of all the votes cast in the district of Wilmot for the
election of five members of the Tasmanian House of Assembly in April
1909. The names of the candidates are given with the numbers of the
various preferences recorded for each candidate. The total number of
second preferences recorded for Waterworth, the first candidate to be
excluded, was 141. Similar tables for the other four districts show that
no injustice arose from the exclusion of the lowest candidate. The only
occasion on which the criticism has any force is when, in filling the
last seats, the conditions are analogous to those which obtain in a
three-cornered fight in a single-member constituency. Yet in the latter
case the Royal Commission did not hesitate to recommend the exclusion of
the lowest candidate.


Name. Preferences.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Best 935 690 596 609 615 550 23 2 7 5
Dumbleton 518 537 603 632 819 650 24 4 3 5
Field 930 699 692 619 555 585 21 9 4 5
Hope 1,232 1,302 1,077 551 229 159 13 6 2 5
Jensen 1,955 894 1,087 132 58 58 13 19 7 36
Kean 599 1,521 1,370 118 53 50 11 28 38 15
Lee 822 750 902 618 512 488 27 4 7 1
Lyons 1,079 1,444 1,329 93 76 65 21 29 32 12
Murray 572 885 972 848 625 395 14 6 7 1
Waterworth 221 141 236 590 198 254 141 21 6 9
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- --- --- --- --
8,863 8,863 8,863 4,810 3,740 3,254 308 128 113 94

The elimination of candidates has been criticized from another point of
view. The Royal Commission, while careful not to endorse this criticism,
and referring to it with reluctance, "because doubts about the absolute
reliability of the mechanism of the system may arouse prejudices
disproportionate to the importance of the subject, which is very small
in comparison with the other considerations involved," review the
evidence which had been submitted to them as follows: "The element of
chance involved in the order of elimination is exceedingly difficult to
determine. It would appear that the element is perceptible in certain
contingencies, but the rarity or frequency with which these would occur
in actual practice is a matter of pure speculation, as it apparently
depends on the amount of cross-voting which voters permit themselves in
the use of their later preferences, a point only to be decided by
experience. 'Chance' in this connexion has not quite the same meaning as
when used in respect of the method of transfer. In the case of the
latter we were dealing with mathematical probabilities; the chance which
is said to be involved in the process of elimination consists in the
fact that the results of the election may vary according to the strength
of quite irrelevant factors. Thus, a case was put to us to show that
with certain dispositions on the part of the electors the representation
of a party might be so much at the mercy of the order of elimination
that while it would only obtain one seat with 19,000 votes of its own it
would obtain two with 18,000, because in the latter case the order of
elimination of two candidates would be reversed."[18]

It is here suggested that the results may depend upon the amount of
cross-voting which voters would permit themselves in the use of their
later preferences. The whole paragraph abounds in obscurities, and the
word "cross-voting" is used in such a context as to make it quite
uncertain whether the Commission mean by it inter- or intra-party
voting, or both. It is somewhat difficult to make a definite answer to a
charge so indistinctly formulated. Cross-voting, in the ordinary sense,
may certainly affect the result. If the supporters of a Radical
candidate prefer to give their second preferences to a Labour candidate
rather than to a moderate Liberal, such cross-voting obviously may
determine whether the Labour candidate or the moderate Liberal will be
successful. There is no element of chance involved. The object of the
system is the true representation of the electors, and the returning
officer must give effect to their wishes. The numerical case cited by
the Commissioners can only occur when so-called supporters of the party
in question are so indifferent to its fate as to refrain from recording
any preferences for any members of the party other than their own
favoured candidate. Such voters can hardly be called "members of a
party" for the purpose of contrasting its strength with that of another
party.[19] Even such cases, supposing them at all probable in practice,
could be provided against, as has been suggested by Mr. Rooke Corbett of
the Manchester Statistical Society, by determining a new quota whenever
any votes have to be set aside as exhausted. But the elections in which
the system has been tried show how little these cases accord with the
facts. The large number of exhausted papers which occur in the model
election described in this chapter, which was organized through the
press, perhaps accounts for much of this criticism. In real elections
the percentage of exhausted papers is much less. Thus in Johannesburg,
where one rigidly organized party, another party more loosely organized,
and ten independent candidates took the field, the electors made good
use of their privilege of marking preferences. Some 11,788 votes were
polled. At the conclusion of the tenth transfer only 104 votes had been
treated as exhausted. In Pretoria, where there were 2814 votes, the
total number of exhausted votes at the end of the election was only 63.
This happened on the occasion of the first trial of the system in
Johannesburg and Pretoria, and further experience will lead to an even
fuller exercise of the privilege of marking preferences. There is no
case for a criticism based on such a hypothetical example as that hinted
at by the Commission.

_Quota Representation on the basis of the system._

Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, in criticizing this method of voting, complains
that its advocates "assume, quite erroneously, that a second preference
should carry the same political value as a first preference." But it
would be obviously unfair to penalize an elector by depriving him of any
part of the value of his vote because he failed to secure his first
choice as his representative. In making this criticism Mr. Macdonald has
lost sight of the reason for which the vote is made transferable. Every
elector has but one vote, and unless this vote retains its full value
when transferred, the proportionate representation of the electors
cannot be achieved. Thus it is conceivable that in a constituency
returning several members Mr. Macdonald might poll two quotas of Labour
votes, and if his excess votes were not transferred to the second
preferences of his supporters at their full value, the representation of
the party would suffer. Each quota of electors is entitled to a member,
and the transferring of votes enables the electors to group themselves
into quotas of equal size.

In a critical analysis of the regulations adopted in the Transvaal, Mr.
Howard Pim, President of the Statistical Society, South Africa, stated
that: "However defective these regulations may be, the system of
election introduced by this Act is a great advance upon any previously
in existence in this Colony, for by it a minority which can command a
number of votes equal to or exceeding a number equal to the quota can
elect its candidate. This advantage far outweighs any defects that exist
in the regulations, and I trust that this principle of the quota will
never be surrendered, even if the Second Schedule of the Act be
modified."[20] Representation by quota has always been recognized by
advocates of the single transferable vote as being the great reform
accomplished by the new method of voting. The Government Statistician of
Tasmania, Mr. R. M. Johnston, declared that "those who ignore this
keystone, or foundation of the Hare system, and restrict their attention
entirely to peddling or unimportant details--such as the element of
chance involved in quota-excess-transfer-votes--fail altogether to
comprehend the grandeur and perfection of the cardinal features of the
system, which secures just and equitable representation of all forces,
whether of majorities or minorities." In attempting to give effect to
this great principle it is unnecessary to impose more work upon the
returning officers than is absolutely essential for the purpose, and
such experience as is available shows that the rules contained in the
Municipal Representation Bill[21] accomplish this end.

[Footnote 1: Denmark was thus the first country to make use of a system
of proportional representation. An excellent account of its introduction
is given in _La Représentation Proportionelle_, published in 1888 by the
French Society for the Study of Proportional Representation.]

[Footnote 2: In addition to the eight members elected by each Parliament,
the Senate includes eight nominated members appointed by the Governor in
Council. In future elections, unless otherwise determined by the Union
Parliament, eight Senators for each province will be elected at a joint
session of the members of the Provincial Council and the members of the
Union House of Assembly elected for the province.]

[Footnote 3: The first section of the amendment was as follows: "From and
after the passing of the present Bill, every local constituency shall,
subject to the provisions hereinafter contained, return one member for
every quota of its registered electors actually voting at that election,
such quota being a number equal to the quotient obtained by dividing by
658 the total number of votes polled throughout the kingdom at the same
election, and if such quotient be fractional, the integral number nest
less. Provided always, that where the number of votes given by the
constituency shall not be equal to such quota, the quota may be
completed by means of votes given by persons duly qualified as electors
in any part of the United Kingdom; and the candidate who shall have
obtained such quota may, notwithstanding, be returned as a member for
the said constituency if he shall have obtained a majority of the votes
given therein as hereinafter mentioned."]

[Footnote 4: _Autobiography_, 1873, p. 259.]

[Footnote 5: The election of 1910, which was held in Glasgow, was
organized by the Scottish Branch of the Society.]

[Footnote 6: This mode of voting is simple and effective where the
electing body is small and where there is no need or desire to avoid
full publicity. It is in use in the municipality of Toronto for the
election of committees, and was proposed for use in the election of a
number of Lords of Parliament from the whole body of peers in a
memorandum submitted by Lord Courtney of Penwith to the Select Committee
on the Reform of the House of Lords. See Report of this Committee [(234)
[(234) 1908] ]

[Footnote 7: This rule for ascertaining the quota was first suggested by
Mr. H.R. Droop in a paper read by him before the Statistical Society in
April 1881. Both Mr. Hare and M. Andrae proposed that the quota should
be ascertained by dividing the number of votes cast by the number of
members to be elected. Mr. Droop pointed out that such a quota might,
with constituencies returning from three to eight representatives each,
yield on some occasions an incorrect result. "Suppose, for instance,"
says he, "that the election is a contest between two parties of which
one commands 360 votes and the other 340, and that each party runs four
candidates for seven seats; then M. Andrae's quota will be (360 + 340) /
7 = 700 / 7 = 100, while mine will be: 700 / 8 + 1 = 88. Consequently,
if the 360 voters should divide their first votes so as to give
originally to each of three candidates 100, or more, votes, say 110,
104, and 100, their fourth candidate will originally have only 46 votes,
and will obtain by transfer with M. Andrae's quota only 14 additional
votes, and thus he will not get altogether more than 60 votes, and
therefore if the 340 can by organization arrange to divide their first
votes so that each of their four candidates has originally more than 60
votes (which would not be difficult, as an equal division would give
each of them 85 votes) they will carry the odd candidate. On the other
hand, with my quota, the fourth candidate will get by transfer (however
the votes may be originally distributed) 360 - (3 x 88) = 360 - 264 = 96
votes, and it will be impossible for the 340 to place all their four
candidates ahead of those of the 360. Therefore, with my quota nothing
can be gained by dividing the votes equally, or lost by dividing them
unequally, while with M. Andrae's and Mr. Hare's quota there will always
be a possibility of gaining by this, and therefore it may be worth while
in an important election to organize and ascertain how many candidates
the party's votes can carry, and arrange for such votes being divided
equally between these candidates, the very thing which preferential
voting is intended to render unnecessary."]

[Footnote 8: The proportion will not in practice be so simple as in this
example--one-half. In every case the proportion is that which the number
of next preferences marked for any one unelected candidate bears to the
total number of preferences marked for all unelected candidates.
_Cf._ p. 164.]

[Footnote 9: _Vide_ Appendix VII.]

[Footnote 10: Report of the Royal Commission on Electoral Systems (Cd.
5163), Par. 65.]

[Footnote 11: _Real Representation for Great Britain and Ireland_, 1910,
p. 23.]

[Footnote 12: In the model election held in Glasgow, 1910, the list
contained the name of a Nationalist candidate (see _Representation_, No.
19, November 1910).]

[Footnote 13: See page 137.]

[Footnote 14: This total slightly exceeds the quota, 3613, owing to the
neglect of fractions in the second column. The loss of votes due to
neglect of fractions will be found separately recorded in the result
sheet, p. 160-61. This loss of votes can be avoided by treating the
largest fractions as unity.]

[Footnote 15: See page 257.]

[Footnote 16: It was at first intended to adopt the arrangement of staff
and method of recording preferences used at the election of 1897. These
arrangements were after a test abandoned in favour of the much more
convenient method used at the Proportional Representation Society's
model election held December 1908.--_Report on the Tasmanian General
Election_, 1909, par. 8.]

[Footnote 17: For full details of these elections, see Report presented
to both Houses of the Transvaal Parliament.--T.G. 5--'10.]

[Footnote 18: _Report of Royal Commission on Electoral Systems_, par.

[Footnote 19: A simple example will explain. Let it be assumed that P
and Q are members of party A, and poll 18,000 votes, that R and S and T
are members of party B, polling in all 19,000 votes, and that the
following table records the votes given and the details of the transfers
made in arriving at the final result:--

Quota = (37,000/4) + 1 = 9251

Transfer Transfer
1st of R's of T's
Candidates. Count. Surplus. Result. Votes. Result.

P 9,050 9,050 9,050 (Elected).
Party A. Q 8,950 8,950 8,950 (Elected).

R 10,000 -749 9,251 9,251 (Elected).
Party B. S 6,000 +500 6,500 +2,400 8,900
T 3,000 +249 3,249 -3,249

Exhausted +849 849
------ ------ ------
37,000 37,000 37,000

The members of the two parties recorded their votes as follows:--

Party A. Party B.
P. 9,050 R. 10,000
Q. 8,950 S. 6,000
T. 3,000

The total number of votes polled is 37,000, and the quota, therefore, is
9251. Candidate R, having received more than a quota would be declared
elected, and his surplus of 749 votes carried forward. It may be assumed
that candidates S and T, who are of the same party, received 500 and 249
as their shares of this surplus. The result of this transfer is shown in
the table. T, the lowest candidate on the poll, would then be
eliminated. Now, if the contingent of voters Supporting T are not fully
loyal to their party, and as many as 849 have recorded no preference
save for T, then 2400 would be available for transfer to S, whose total
would be only 8900. S would be eliminated, and the three candidates
elected would be P and Q of party A, and R of party B, although R and S
between them represented 18,151 voters. This case can be met by
providing that whenever votes are exhausted the quota should be counted
afresh. The votes in play, ignoring those exhausted, would be in all
36,151, the new quota would be 9038, while an additional number of
votes, viz. 213, would be available for transfer from R to S, with the
result that the position of these candidates would be as follows:--

R 9,038
S 9,113
P 9,050
Q 8,950

Party B would obtain two seats, the party A only one seat.]

[Footnote 20: Address delivered on 6 September 1909.]

[Footnote 22: See Appendix VII.]



"'One man, one vote; one party, one candidate'--thus runs the

List systems of proportional representation are based upon the block
vote or _scrutin de liste_--the method of election generally used on the
Continent of Europe and in the United States of America when several
members are to be elected for the same constituency. With the _scrutin
de liste_, lists of candidates are nominated by the various political
organizations or groups of electors; each elector has as many votes as
there are members to be elected, but he may not give more than one vote
to any one candidate. The party which can obtain the support of a
majority of the electors can carry its list to the exclusion of all
others; minorities are crushed even more completely than with the system
of single-member constituencies. But as constituencies returning several
members are an essential requirement of any scheme of proportional
representation, the _scrutin de liste_ facilitates the introduction of a
proportional system, for the only great change involved is the allotment
of seats to the respective lists in proportion to the totals of votes
obtained by each. But this change brings in its train a change in the
nature of the vote. It remains no longer a vote only for candidates as
individuals; it obtains a twofold significance, and becomes what is
termed the double simultaneous vote (_le double vote simultanée_). In
the first place it is a vote for the party list as such, and is used for
determining the proportion of seats to be allotted to the lists; and, in
the second place, it is a vote for a particular candidate or order of
candidates for the purpose of ascertaining which of the candidates
included in a list shall be declared successful. This double function of
the vote is characteristic of all list systems of proportional
representation. Other changes of a subsidiary character, which
experience has shown to be advisable, have been adopted in different
countries so that the various systems differ in detail in the methods
both by which seats are apportioned among the competing lists and by
which the successful candidates are chosen.

_The Belgian electoral system_.]

List systems are in operation for parliamentary purposes in Switzerland,
Belgium, Würtemberg, Sweden, and Finland. The simplest of these is that
adopted by Belgium, and the description of a Belgian election may serve
as an introduction to the study of other systems. Through the courtesy
of M. Steyeart, the President of the Tribunal of First Instance and
Chief Electoral Officer for the constituency of Ghent-Eecloo, the author
was enabled to watch the elections in May 1908 in that constituency.
Proportional representation is, however, only one of the points in which
the Belgian and English electoral systems differ, and in order to obtain
a true estimate of the working of the Belgian law it is necessary to
distinguish between results which are due to the franchise
qualifications and those which are due to the system of proportional
representation. The effects arising from these two separate features of
the electoral system have sometimes been confused, and it is therefore
desirable to give a brief outline of the conditions which govern a
Belgian election.

In the first place, Belgium has manhood suffrage modified by a system of
graduated voting. Secondly, each elector is compelled to vote or, at
least, to present himself at the polling place. Thirdly, both the
Chambers are elective, and, although provision exists for the
dissolution and the election of Parliament as a whole, only one-half of
each Chamber is, in the ordinary course, elected at a time, each
Senator being elected for a fixed period of eight years, and each
member of the House of Representatives for a period of four years.

_The franchise._

The unique franchise system embodied in the Belgian constitution in 1893
was adopted only after months had been spent in discussing the schemes
of rival parties. All attempts at compromise failed until attention was
seriously directed to the suggestions of M. Albert Nyssens, Professor of
the University of Louvain, contained in his pamphlet _Le Suffrage
Universel Tempéré_. His proposals had the merit of recognizing the
validity of the arguments advanced by all the political parties.
Conservatives desired the introduction of a system based on occupation
coupled with the payment of taxes; many Liberals were anxious to secure
special recognition for electors of admitted capacity--in short, an
educational qualification; the Radicals inside and Socialists outside
Parliament demonstrated continually in favour of universal, direct and
equal suffrage. The claim for universal suffrage was recognized by
granting to every male Belgian who had attained the age of twenty-five
years the right to vote, but a counterpoise to so democratic a suffrage
was sought in the granting of additional votes to electors possessing
specified qualifications. A supplementary vote was awarded to every
married man who had attained the age of thirty-five years and paid five
francs in taxes on his dwelling. An additional vote was given to every
owner of land or house property of the value of two thousand francs, or
to the possessor of an income of a hundred francs derived from Belgian
public funds. Thus were met the demands of the Catholics for the
representation of property, whilst the Liberal advocacy of the claims of
the educated voter were met in a similar way. Two additional votes were
awarded to those who had obtained a diploma of higher education; to
those who filled, or had filled, a public position; or to those engaged
in a profession which implied the possession of a good education. The
highest number of votes awarded to any elector, for parliamentary
purposes, whatever qualifications he might possess, was three.

_Compulsory voting_.

The exercise of the franchise is regarded in Belgium as a duty which
each citizen owes to the State, and the obligatory vote is therefore
universally accepted without demur. The elector must attend at the
polling place, take his ballot paper and deposit it in the ballot box.
If he places the ballot paper in the urn without voting there are no
means of ascertaining the fact; but unless he forwards to the Electoral
Officer an explanation, in due form, of his absence from the polling
booth he is liable to prosecution. The percentage of abstentions is thus
very low, but, in addition to this result, the obligatory vote has had a
considerable indirect effect upon the character of electoral contests.
Voting has become an official matter. Formerly, as here, it rested with
the political organizations to persuade and exhort electors to vote;
now, each elector receives from the Returning Officer an official
command to attend at the polling place.

_Partial renewal of chamber_.

The third difference--the partial renewal of the Chambers--dates from
the constitution of 1831, and the reason for its adoption was the same
as that which underlies the partial renewal of English municipal
councils--the desire to ensure continuity in the composition and
proceedings of Parliament. There was some justification for this
practice under the old voting methods, for then the result of elections
largely depended, as is the case in England to-day, upon the chance
distribution of party strength. The composition of the Chamber of
Representatives was liable to violent oscillations and changes, and the
partial renewal of the Chambers moderated the violence of these changes.
But whilst the partial renewal may be defended on these grounds, it has
two distinct disadvantages. When only one-half of the Chamber is to be
elected (as in the renewal of only one-third of our municipal Councils)
a considerable diminution takes place in the amount of public interest
evoked by an election. There is, moreover, a further and even more
serious drawback that, when the election turns upon a question of vital
importance, such for instance as the annexation of the Congo, the
verdict of _only one-half_ the people is obtained. In 1908 elections
took place in four provinces only--East Flanders, Hainaut, Liege, and
Limbourg--and so, whilst the citizens of Ghent and Liège were expressing
their opinion upon the policy of the Government, the citizens of
Brussels were reduced to the position of spectators of a fight in which
doubtless many would have liked to have taken a part. The introduction
of proportional representation has rendered this particular feature of
the Belgian electoral system quite unnecessary. Electors are not so
fickle as an irrational method of voting made them appear to be.

_The presentation of lists_.

For the purpose of parliamentary elections each of the nine provinces of
Belgium is divided into large constituencies returning several members;
Brussels returns twenty-one members, Ghent eleven, but several of the
smaller constituencies return as few as three representatives. Fifteen
days before the date of the election lists of candidates which, before
presentation, must have received the support of at least one hundred
electors, are sent to the returning officer. After verification, each
list is given an official number and the lists are then published, no
official title other than the number being given to the lists. In the
copy of the ballot paper used at Ghent, shown on the opposite page, list
No. 1 was presented by the Catholics; No. 2 by the Liberals; No. 3 by
those Socialists who were dissatisfied with their party's list; No. 4 by
the small tradesmen; No. 5 by the official Socialists; whilst No. 6
contains the name of a candidate standing as an independent. It will be
observed that each of the first five lists is divided into two parts
separated by the word "Suppléants." The candidates so described are not
taken into account in the actual election of representatives; they are,
however, voted for in the same way and at the same time as the other
candidates, and are called upon (in the order determined by the result
of the election) to fill any vacancy occasioned by the retirement or
death of a duly-elected representative belonging to the same list. This
arrangement obviates the necessity for bye-elections, and the relative
strength of parties remains the same from the time of one election to
the next. The order in which the names of the candidates appear upon the
lists is arranged by the organizations responsible for their
presentation. It should, however, be stated that this provision, about
which public opinion is much divided, is not an essential feature of a
proportional system. It was not a part of the original proposals of M.
Beernaert, and it certainly strengthens the hands of political
organizations, although, as will be shown subsequently, proportional
representation considerably modifies, if it does not altogether prevent,
abuse of the power conceded to political bodies.

[Illustration: List Ballot paper]

_The act of voting._

The work of the elector is simplicity itself. He can select one list or
one candidate in a list but not more for each of the votes to which he
may be entitled. His choice can be recorded in four different ways. In
each case the act of voting consists in pencilling one or other of the
white spots contained in the black squares at the head of the lists or
against the names of individual candidates. In the first place, the
elector may vote by blackening the spot at the head of the list. The
significance of such a vote is that the elector votes for the list, and,
at the same time, approves of the order in which the candidates have
been arranged by the party organization. Naturally all the party
organizations and journals advise their supporters to vote in this way.

Secondly, the elector may vote by blackening the white spot against the
name of one of the "effective" candidates on one of the lists. Such a
vote implies that the elector votes for the list on which the
candidate's name appears, but that, instead of approving of the order in
which the candidates have been arranged, he prefers the particular
candidate he has marked. The third and fourth methods are but variations
of the second. The elector can indicate a preference for one of the
supplementary candidates, or he can indicate preferences for an
effective and also for a supplementary candidate. In brief, the elector
votes for one of the lists, and either approves of the list as arranged
or indicates the change he desires.

_The allotment of seats to parties._

The number of representatives awarded to each party is determined by the
method formulated by M. Victor d'Hondt, a professor of the University of
Ghent. Its working may best be shown by an illustration. Let it be
assumed that three lists have been presented; that they have obtained
8000, 7500, and 4500 votes respectively, and that there are five
vacancies to be filled. The total number of votes for each list is
divided successively by the numbers 1, 2, 3, and so on, and the
resulting numbers are arranged thus:--

List No. 1. List No. 2. List No. 3.
8,000 7,500 4,500
4,000 3,750 2,250
2,666 2,500 1,500

The five highest numbers (five being the number of vacancies to be
filled) are then arranged in order of magnitude as follows:--


The lowest of these numbers, 3750, is called the "common divisor"[1] or
the "electoral quotient," and forms the basis for the allotment of
seats. The number of votes obtained by each of the lists is divided by
the "common divisor" thus:--

8,000 divided by 3,750 = 2 with a remainder of 500. 7,500 " 3,750 =
2 4,500 " 3,750 = 1 with a remainder of 750.

The first list contains the "electoral quotient" twice, the second
twice, and the third once, and the five seats are allotted accordingly.
Each party obtains one representative for every quota of voters which it
can rally to its support, all fractions of "quotas" being disregarded.

The method of determining the electoral quotient may appear at first
sight rather empirical, but the rule is merely the arithmetical
expression, in a form convenient for returning officers, of the
following train of reasoning. The three lists with 8000, 7500, and 4500
supporters are competing for seats. The first seat has to be allotted;
to which list is it to go? Plainly to the list with 8000 supporters.
Then the second seat has to be disposed of; to which list is it to go?
If it is given to the first list, then the supporters of the first list
will have two members in all, or one member for each 4000 votes. This
would be unfair while 7500 supporters of the second list are
unrepresented, therefore the second seat is allotted to the list with
7500 supporters. Similar reasoning will give the third seat to the list
with 4500 supporters, the fourth to the list with 8000 supporters, which
now will rightly have one representative for each 4000, and the fifth to
the list with 7500. The question in each case is to what list must the
seat be allotted in such a way that no one group of unrepresented
electors is larger than a represented group. The separate allotment of
seats one by one in accordance with the foregoing reasoning may be
shown thus:--

8,000 (List No. 1)
7,500 ( " No. 2)
4,500 ( " No. 3)
4,000 ( " No. 1)
3,750 ( " No. 2)

This result of course agrees with that obtained by the official process
of dividing the total of each list by the electoral quotient.

_The selection of successful candidates._

The seats having been apportioned to the respective lists it becomes
necessary to ascertain which of the candidates on the respective lists
are to be declared elected. In this second process it will be seen now
great an advantage is obtained by the candidates at the top of each
list.[2] A11 the votes marked in the space at the top of a list, _i.e.,_
list votes, form a pool from which the candidates of the list draw in
succession as many votes as are necessary to make their individual
total equal to the electoral quotient, the process continuing until the
pool is exhausted. In the example already given, assume that List No. 1
consists of three candidates, A, B, and C, arranged in the order named,
and that the 8000 supporters of the list have given their votes as

Votes at the head of the List 4,000
Preferential votes for A 600
" " B 500
" " C 3,000
Total 8,000

Candidate A, being the first in order on the list, has the first claim
on the votes recorded for the list. The electoral quotient is 3750, and
A's total 500 is raised to this number by the addition of 3250 votes
taken from those recorded for the list. This secures his election, and
there remain 750 list votes which are attributed to candidate B, this
candidate being the second in order on the list. B, however, also had
500 votes recorded against his name, and his total poll therefore
amounts to 1250. But candidate C has obtained 3000 votes, all recorded
for himself personally, and as this total exceeds B's total of 1250, C
would be declared elected. The two candidates chosen from List No. 1
would, in this case, be A and C. The successful supplementary candidates
are ascertained in the same way.

_A Belgian election. Ghent, 1908: the poll._

In a Belgian election the polling proceeds very smoothly and quietly.
This is largely due to the fact that the law for compulsory voting has
relieved the party organizations of the necessity of whipping up their
supporters to the poll. At the election of Ghent, which the author was
privileged to witness, the candidates for the Chamber of Representatives
were as given in the ballot paper on page 177. It will be seen that six
lists of candidates were presented, but in the election of Senators only
the three chief organizations took part. There were eleven members of
the House of Representatives and five Senators to be elected.

The constituency was divided into 350 polling districts, the maximum
number of electors for a district being 500. To each district was
assigned a polling place in charge of a presiding officer, appointed by
the returning officer of the district; the presiding officer was
assisted by four citizens, each of whom was required to be in possession
of the maximum number of votes, and to be at least forty years of age.
In addition, the party organizations sent duly accredited witnesses to
watch against possible fraud, and to assure themselves of the absolute
regularity of the proceedings. The poll opened at 8 A.M. Each elector
had to present his official "summons" to vote, and received from the
presiding officer one, two, or three ballot papers according to the
number of votes to which he was entitled. The elector took the papers to
a private compartment, as in an English election, marked them, placed
them in the ballot box and received back his official letter, now
stamped--evidence, if need be, that he had carried out the obligation
imposed upon him by law. At 1 P.M. the poll was closed; the ballot boxes
were opened and the ballot papers counted in the presence of the
assessors and party witnesses for the purpose of ascertaining that all
papers in the possession of the presiding officer at the opening of the
poll had been duly accounted for.

_The counting of the votes_.]

In order to maintain as far as possible, not only the secrecy of the
individual vote, but the secrecy of the vote of any locality, the votes
of three polling places were counted together, the grouping of polling
places for this purpose having been previously determined by lot. Thus
the votes counted at the town hall (polling district No. 1) were those
recorded in the districts Nos. 1, 112, and 94. The proceedings were
directed by the presiding officer of the first polling place, assisted
by the presiding officers of the other two. The only other persons
present were witnesses representing the three chief parties. The
counting commenced soon after 3 P.M., and was completed, both for the
Senate and Chamber, by 7 P.M. The papers were sorted according to the
votes given for each list, subsidiary heaps being made for those
candidates who had received individual votes of preference. A separate
heap was made of spoiled and blank voting papers, but it was evident
from the very commencement of the proceedings that the method of voting
had presented no difficulty to the elector. Of the 1370 votes recorded
in this division for candidates for the Chamber there were but
twenty-six spoiled papers; of these thirteen were blank, indicating that
the voters, although attending the poll, did not wish to record any
opinion. The thirteen other papers showed in nearly every case some
confusion in the mind of the elector with the elections for the communal
councils, when the elector can give several votes of preference. The
official returns, after endorsement, were forwarded by post to the
returning officer, whose duty it was to prepare the returns for the
whole constituency. The figures for each district were given to the
press at the close of the count, and special editions of the journals,
containing the probable result of the election, were issued the
same evening.

_The final process._

The compilation of the returns for the whole constituency took place on
the following day. The returning officer presided, and was assisted by
four assessors, a secretary and three witnesses, who attended on behalf
of the chief parties. In addition there were two professional
calculators, who were responsible for the accuracy of the arithmetical
processes. The proceedings, in brief, consisted in extracting the
details of the returns furnished by the 120 counting places. The final
sheet for each list showed not only the total number of votes obtained
by the party, but the number of votes of preference recorded for each
candidate. The votes for each list were as follows:--

List No.1. List No.2. List No.3. List No.4. List No.5. List No.6.
78,868 39,788 913 1,094 23,118 271

The process of allotting the seats to the respective parties then
commenced. The totals for each list were divided by the numbers 1, 2,
3, and so on, and arranged thus:--

List List List List List List
No. 1. No. 2. No. 3. No. 4. No. 5. No. 6
78,865 39,788 913 1,094 23,118 271
39,432 19,894 11,559
26,288 13,262
19,716 9,947

The eleven highest figures thus obtained were then arranged in order of
magnitude, and the seats allotted accordingly:--

1st Seat 78,865 (List No. 1--Catholic)
2nd " 39,783 ( " No. 2--Liberal)
3rd " 39,432 ( " No. 1--Catholic)
4th " 26,288 ( " No. 1--Catholic)
5th " 23,118 ( " No. 5--Socialist)
6th " 19,894 ( " No. 2--Liberal)
7th " 19,716 ( " No. 1--Catholic)
8th " 15,773 ( " No. 1--Catholic)
9th " 13,262 ( " No. 2--Liberal)
10th " 13,144 ( " No. 1--Catholic)
11th " 11,559 ( " No. 5--Socialist)

Thus the Catholics, Liberals, and Socialists obtained six, three, and
ten seats respectively. It will be noticed that the eleventh figure,
11,559, which is the "common divisor," or "electoral quotient," is
contained six times in the Catholic total, with a remainder of 9511;
three times in the Liberal total, with a remainder of 5000; and twice in
the Socialist total.

The highest number of preferences recorded for any individual candidate
(although placards had been posted inviting votes of preference for M.
Buysse, the candidate fourth on the Liberal list, and for M. Cambier,
the candidate third on the Socialist list) were 1914 and 1635, much too
small to effect any change in the order of the candidates as arranged by
the associations. It remains to add that the task was accomplished with
perfect regularity and despatch; the figures were checked at each stage,
but as the number of votes polled in the double election (for the
Senate and for the Chamber) amounted to no less than 270,892, it is not
surprising that the compilation of the final figures was not completed
until midnight.

_Public opinion favorable to the system._

This was the fifth parliamentary election[3] in which the system of
proportional representation has been put to the test; its
practicability, both from the point of view of the elector and of the
returning officer, is now no longer open to question. Interviews on the
effects of the system with Catholic leaders like M. Beernaert or M. Van
den Heuvel, with Liberals like Count Goblet d'Alviella, or M. Gustave
Abel, the editor of _La Flandre Liberale_, or with Socialists like M.
Anseele, revealed the fact that there is no party in Belgium which
desires to return to the former electoral system. The Liberals and
Socialists are hostile to plural voting, but their attitude to
proportional representation may be summed up in the desire to make the
system more perfect.[4] Constituencies returning three or four members
are not sufficiently large to do complete justice to a system of
proportional representation, and many, among whom must be included M.
Vandervelde, desire the grouping of these smaller constituencies into
larger ones. The general trend of public opinion is in complete
agreement with the views of party leaders, and found forcible expression
in the press comments on the elections in 1908 for the
provincial councils.

_The relation of the Belgian to other list systems._

The Belgian list method, although simple in form, is based upon a very
careful examination of earlier list systems, and represents an attempt
to avoid the defects and inconveniences of those systems. As already
stated, the vote in a "list" system has two aspects. Indeed, in the
canton of Solothurn in Switzerland each elector is invited, first, to
record his vote for a list as a separate act, and secondly, to vote for
the particular candidate he prefers.

In tracing the growth of the Belgian system it will be best to consider
these two aspects separately, and, in the first place, the vote in so
far as it affects the fortunes of the list. The object in view--the
allotment of the seats in proportion to the total number of votes
obtained by the respective lists--would seem quite simple of attainment,
and would be so were the totals obtained by each list such that it was
possible to divide the seats among them in exact proportion. Voters do
not, however, group themselves in exact proportion, and it becomes
necessary therefore to devise a rule of distribution that shall
approximate to the desired end as closely as possible.

_The different methods of apportioning seats to lists._

The first rule--a very simple one--was adopted because, in the words of
Ernest Naville, "it seemed most intelligible to the general public." The
grand total of votes polled by the different lists was divided by the
total number of seats, and the distribution of seats was based upon the
quotient, or "quota" thus obtained. The total of each list was divided
by the quota for the purpose of ascertaining the number of seats to
which it was entitled. The answers, as will be seen from the following
example, usually contained fractions. Assume that seven seats are to be
distributed among three lists, A, B, C; that the grand total of votes is
7000, and that the respective lists have polled as follows:--

List A 2,850 votes
" B 2,650 "
" C 1,500 "
Total 7,000

The quotient in this case is 1000. The totals of the lists A, B, and C
contain the quotient twice, twice and once respectively, but in each
case with a remainder, and it is the remainder that constitutes the
difficulty. According to the earliest list schemes the remaining seats
were allotted to the lists having the largest remainders, and, in the
example given, lists A and B would each receive an additional seat.
Party organizers were not slow to perceive that it was advisable to
obtain as many of the largest remainders as they could, and considerable
dissatisfaction arose in Ticino from the action of the Conservatives,
who very skilfully divided their forces into two groups, thereby
obtaining additional seats. A simple example will explain. Assume that
three deputies are to be elected, that the grand total of votes is 3000,
and that the party votes are as follows:--

Party A 1,600 votes
" B 1,400 "
Total 3,000

The quota would be 1000 votes. Party A, having the larger remainder,
would obtain two seats, and party B only one seat; but if party B should
present two lists and arrange for the division of its voting force, the
following result might ensue:--

Party A 1,600 votes
" B1 700 "
" B2 700 "
Total 3,000

The quota would still be 1000 votes, but party A would only obtain one
seat, whereas party B would obtain two, because each of its two lists
would show a remainder larger than A's remainder. This possibility led
to a modification of the rule, and the seats remaining after the first
distribution were allotted to the largest parties. But this was also far
from satisfactory, as will be seen from the following example taken from
a Ticino election:[5]--

Conservatives 614 votes
Radicals 399 "
Total 1,013

The constituency to which the figures refer returned five members; the
quotient therefore was 202, and the Conservatives obtained three seats
on the first distribution, and the Radicals one. As, under the rule,
the remaining seat was allotted to the largest party, the Conservatives
obtained four seats out of the five when, obviously, the true proportion
was three to two.

The rule subsequently devised aimed at reducing the importance of
remainders in the allotment of seats. The total of each list was divided
by the number of seats plus one. This method yielded a smaller quota
than the original rule and enabled more seats to be allotted at the
first distribution. The final improvement, however, took the form of
devising a rule which should so allot the seats to different parties
that after the first distribution there should be no seats remaining
unallotted. This is the great merit of the Belgian or d'Hondt rule,
which has already been fully described.

_Criticism of d'Hondt Rule_.

The d'Hondt rule certainly accomplishes its purpose; it furnishes a
measuring rod by which to measure off the number of seats won by each
list.[6] But the rule is not without its critics.[7] As in the earlier
Swiss methods objection was taken to the undue favouring of certain
remainders, so in Belgium objection is taken to the fact that remainders
are not taken into account at all. The Belgian rule works to the
advantage of the largest party, a fact that many may consider as a point
in its favour.

A further simple example will explain how the larger parties gain.
Assume that eleven seats are being contested by three parties, whose
votes are as follows:--

Party A 6,000 votes
" B 4,800 "
" C 1,900 "
Total 12,700

Arrange these numbers in a line, and divide successively by 1, 2, 3,
and so on, thus:--

Party A. Party B. Party C.
6,000 4,800 1,900
3,000 2,400 960
2,000 1,600
1,500 1,200
1,200 960

The eleventh highest number, which constitutes the measuring rod, will
be found to be 1000; the largest party obtains six seats, the second
party obtains four seats, with a remainder of 800 votes, and the third
only one seat, with a remainder of 900 votes. The two smaller parties
taken together poll 6700 votes but only obtain five seats, as compared
with the six seats obtained by the larger party with 6000 votes; the two
remainders of 800 and 900 votes, which together constitute more than a
quota, having no influence on the result of the election. Even if, in
the allotment of seats, the largest party has a remainder of votes not
utilized, yet this remainder necessarily bears a smaller proportion to
the total of the votes polled than is the case with a smaller party.
Thus the system works steadily in favour of the larger party.

The question of remainders, or votes not utilized in the distribution of
seats, is of minor importance when the constituencies return a large
number of members. When, for example, as in the city of Brussels, there
are twenty-one members to be elected, the votes not utilized bear a
small proportion to those that have been taken into account in the
allotment of seats. In Belgium, however, there are several
constituencies returning as few as three members, and there is naturally
a demand that these constituencies should be united so that the method
of distribution should yield more accurate results.

If the d'Hondt rule, like every other method of distribution, is open to
criticism from the point of view of theoretical perfection, it must be
admitted that in practice it yields excellent results. The election at
Ghent resulted in the return of six Catholics, three Liberals and two
Socialists; it would have been impossible to have allotted the seats
more fairly. Under the old non-proportional method the Catholics would
have obtained eleven representatives and the Liberals and Socialists
none. The immeasurable improvement effected by every true proportional
method is apt to be overlooked in the critical examination of the
working of these methods in those extreme cases which rarely occur
in practice.

_The formation of "cartels."_

The steady working of the d'Hondt rule in favour of the larger parties
has, however, not escaped the attention of advocates of proportional
representation. The late Professor Hagenbach-Bischoff has formulated the
proposal that parties should be allowed to put forward combined lists,
and that in the first allotment of seats the totals of the combined
lists should be taken as the basis of distribution. The need of some
such provision may be shown by an example used in illustration of the
d'Hondt system, at a meeting held under the auspices of the French
Proportional Representation League.[8] A constituency with eleven
members was taken; four lists, A, B, C, and D, received 6498, 2502,
1499, and 501 votes respectively; the d'Hondt rule made 834 the
measuring rod, and gave A seven members, B three, C one, and D none. The
question was asked why provision was not made for the transfer of the
votes from list D to list C, so that if, for example, these lists were
put forward by Radical-Socialists and by Socialists respectively, the
parties might obtain the additional seat to which their combined totals
entitled them. It will be seen that lists C and D, with a total of 2000
votes (more than twice 834), obtained but one representative, while list
A, with 6498 votes, obtained seven representatives.[9]

Professor Hagenbach-Bischoffs proposal, which would meet this
difficulty, has not been embodied in the Belgian law, but "cartels"
(arrangements for the presentation of a common list) are formed between
the Liberals and Socialists so as to lessen their loss of representation
due to the working of the d'Hondt rule. The "cartels," however, do not
give satisfaction, as experience shows that many Liberals who would vote
for a Liberal list decline to vote for a "cartel" of Liberals and
Socialists; whilst, on the other hand, extreme Socialists decline to
support a Liberal-Socialist coalition. In the Finnish system, however,
provision is made for the combination of lists in accordance with
Professor Hagenbach-Bischoff's suggestion. Indeed, as the Finnish law
forbids any list to contain more than three names, some such provision
was necessary in order to allow each separate party to nominate a full
list of candidates.

The experience of the Belgian "cartels" would seem to show that, even
where party organization and discipline are highly developed, many
electors resent the disposal of their votes by a bargain between the
organizations concerned. The single transferable vote, by allowing each
elector to indicate his second choice in the way in which he himself
prefers, would enable smaller parties to obtain their share of
representation without involving a preliminary compact between party
organizations. A list system seems to establish a rigid division between
parties, whilst there is no such corresponding rigid division in the
minds of many electors. The model elections conducted by the
Proportional Representation Society cannot perhaps be accepted as a
conclusive guide to the action of voters at a real election, yet the
number of Liberals who, in the last of these elections, gave an
effective preference to a representative of the Independent Labour
Party, in the person of Mr. Henderson, was very noteworthy. In the
Belgian system no such fluidity is possible; the Liberal electors would
be shut off from any relation with the supporters of Mr. Henderson, who
could figure only upon the Labour Party's list.

_The different methods of selecting successful candidates_.

It will be seen that the problem of allotting seats to lists has been
solved in several different ways. Similarly, different methods have
been tried for the purpose of selecting the successful candidates from
the respective lists. The instructions to voters vary accordingly. The
earlier schemes (and the practice obtains in several Swiss cantons
to-day) provided that each elector should have as many votes as there
were members to be elected, and that he might distribute (without the
privilege of cumulating) his votes over the whole of the candidates
nominated, selecting, if he desired, some names from one list, some from
another, and some from another. After the number of seats secured by
each list had been ascertained those candidates were declared elected
who, in the respective lists, had obtained the highest number of
individual votes.


The practice of voting for candidates belonging to different
lists--_panachage_, as it is called--has evoked considerable discussion,
and still gives rise to differences of opinion among the advocates of
proportional representation on the Continent. At first sight there would
appear to be nothing to discuss, and that there was no possible reason
why the elector should not be allowed to exercise his choice in the
freest manner. It has, however, been found that this privilege can be
used in an unfair way. When each elector has as many votes as there are
candidates, and is not permitted to cumulate his votes on any one, it
usually happens that the votes obtained by individual candidates in any
given list vary but little in number. When in some elections it was
realized that the party could only obtain a certain number of seats, but
that it had a few hundred votes to spare, some extreme partisans used
these votes for the purpose of voting for the least competent men of
their opponents' list, and their action sometimes resulted in the
election of those men in preference to the more competent men of the
party. The danger from this cause would appear to be exaggerated, but
although success has seldom attended the abuse of _panachage_, the fear
of a successful attempt has a disturbing influence. The later Swiss
laws allow electors to cumulate three votes, but not more, upon any one
candidate, so that the success of popular candidates is assured.

_The single vote and the case de tête_.

The Belgian parliamentary system suppresses _panachage_, and that in a
most effective way. In this system each elector has but one vote, and
therefore can only vote for one candidate. In addition, the Belgian
system confers upon the organization presenting a list the right to
arrange the order in which the candidates shall appear upon the list,
and, further, it provides that the voter may approve of this arrangement
by voting at the head of the list in the space provided for that purpose
and which is known as the _case de tête_. Party organizations naturally
advise their supporters to vote in this way. Public opinion is divided
on this feature of the Belgian system, but M. Van den Heuvel, formerly
Minister of Justice, who took a responsible part in the passing of the
law, and with whom the author discussed this provision, defended it most
vigorously, on the ground that the party as a whole had a right to
determine which of its members should be elected. In the absence of the
provision referred to it might happen that some candidate would be
elected in preference to one who was more generally approved of by the
party. This may be made clear by an example given by M. Van den Heuvel
himself. A, B, C and D are candidates. Suppose that the party is strong
enough to return three candidates, but no more, and that five-sixths of
the party are in favour of candidates A, B and C, whilst the minority,
one-sixth, are ardently in favour of candidate D. It will be necessary
that the majority of the party (the five-sixths) should cleverly divide
their votes equally between the candidates A, B and C in order to
prevent the possibility of candidate D being elected by a small minority
of the party. A little reflection will show that in the absence of any
such provision the popular candidate of the majority, say A, might
attract too large a proportion of the votes, thereby allowing D to pass
B or C. Each provision of the Belgian system has been most carefully
thought out, and, if it strengthens the hands of party organizations, it
does so in order to secure the representation of the party by the
candidates most generally approved. It may, however, be pointed out that
had the single transferable vote been used, the candidates A, B and C,
who, in M. Van den Heuvel's example, were supported by five-sixths of
the party, would have been sure of election; there would have been no
need to have conferred a special privilege upon the party organizations.

_The limited and cumulative vote_.

The French Proportional Representation League, which, impressed with the
simplicity of the Belgian system, desired to introduce it into France,
refrained from advocating the adoption of the _case de tête_, and
suggested that the order in which candidates should be declared elected
on each list should be determined by the votes of the electors. The
French League in its first proposal recommended that each elector
should, as in Belgium, have but one vote. It was soon realized that the
popular candidate of the party might attract a large majority of the
votes, and that, in consequence, candidates might be elected who were
the nominees of only a small section of the party. The League in its
second proposal recommended the use of the limited vote, each elector
having two votes when six deputies were to be elected, and three in
larger constituencies. The League, however, followed the Belgian
practice in confining the choice of the elector to candidates on one
list. This proposition was examined in 1905 by the _Commission du
Suffrage Universel_, which, in the Report, declared that it was
impossible to approve of such a limitation of the elector's freedom.
"Nous ne pouvons," runs the Report, "laisser si étroitment enchainer,
garrotter, ligotter l'electeur proclamé souverain et qui doit en tout
cas être libre." The Committee recommended the use of the limited vote
without the restriction recommended by the League. In a further Report,
issued in 1907, this Committee again emphasized the necessity of leaving
the elector quite free in the choice of candidates, and a new Bill,
drafted by the Committee, provided that each elector should have as many
votes as there were deputies to be elected, and that he should be
allowed to cumulate the whole, or several of his votes, upon any one
candidate. Where, however, the cumulative vote has been introduced into
recent Swiss laws, as in that of the Canton of Bâle City, the elector is
not permitted to cumulate more than three votes upon any one candidate.
It will thus be seen that the single vote, the multiple vote without the
privilege of cumulating, the limited vote, and the cumulative vote, have
all been proposed or adopted as methods of determining which candidates
shall be declared elected.

_Special characteristics of Swedish and Finnish systems_.

This summary of the different methods used in solving the double problem
of a list system--the allotment of seats to parties and the selection of
successful candidates--is not fully complete.[10] Special features have
been incorporated in the Swedish and Finnish systems for the purpose of
securing as much freedom of action as possible to electors, and these
systems are described in Appendices Nos. III. and IV. The differences
between the various list systems are, however, not so great as those
between a list system and the single transferable vote, but the
consideration of these must be reserved for the next chapter.

[Footnote 1: The text of the Belgian law (Art. 263 of the Electoral
Code) runs as follows: "Le bureau principal divise successivement par 1,
2, 3, 4, 5, &c. le chiftre électoral de chacune des listes et range les
quotients dans l'ordre de leur importance jusqu'à concurrence d'un
nombre total de quotients égal à celui des membres à élire. Le dernier
quotient sert de diviseur électoral.

"La répartition entre les listes s'opère en attribuant à chacune d'elles
autant de sièges que son chiffre électoral comprend de fois ce

[Footnote 2: The order in which the names appear is arranged by the
party presenting the lists.]

[Footnote 3: A further election (the sixth) took place in 1910.]

[Footnote 4: See _La Representation Proportionnelle intégrale_, 1910.
Felix Goblet d'Alviella (fils).]

[Footnote 5: _Rapport de la Commission du Suffrage Universel_, 1905, p.

[Footnote 6: Professor Hagenbach-Bischoff, of Bâle, formulated a
different rule which is finding favour in Swiss cantons. The quota which
will ensure the apportionment of all the seats among the lists without
remainder is ascertained by trial. In practice the same results are
obtained as with the d'Hondt rule. Full directions for applying the rule
are contained in Clause XIII. of the law adopted for the canton of Bale
Town.--Appendix IX.]

[Footnote 7: For recent French criticism, see page 202.]

[Footnote 8: At Lille, December 1906.]

[Footnote 9: The new French Bill (_see_ Appendix X.) provides for the
presentation of combined lists (_apparentement_).]

[Footnote 10: Cf. _La Repésentation Proportionelle en France et en
Belgique_, M. Georges Lachapelle (1911) and the new report of the
Commission du Suffrage Universel (No. 826, Chambre des Députés, 1911).
M. Lachapelle recommends a new proposal, _le système du nombre unique_.
The electoral quotient for all constituencies would be fixed by law at,
say, 15,000 votes. The number of deputies chosen at each election would
be allowed to vary. Each list in each constituency would receive as many
seats as its total contained the quotient. The constituencies would be
grouped into divisions. The votes remaining over after the allotment of
seats in each constituency would be added together, and further seats
would then be allotted to the respective lists.]



"Les partis sont une institution de la vie politiquo actuelle. Ils sont
une partie, non écrite, de la Constitution."--P. G. LA CHESNAIS

_Influence of previous conditions_.]

List methods of proportional representation have been favoured on the
Continent, the transferable vote in English-speaking countries, and the
question naturally arises, whence this difference? It would appear from
the history of proportional representation that advocates of the reform
have always kept in mind local customs, and have adapted their proposals
to them. Thus a list system of proportional representation was adopted
in Switzerland because such a system was more easily grafted upon
previous electoral conditions. This is the explanation given by Ernest
Naville, who for more than forty years was the leading advocate of
electoral reform in Switzerland, in a letter[1] addressed to the late
Miss Spence of Adelaide, South Australia. "The Swiss Cantons," said he,
"have adopted the system of competing lists. I do not think the system
is the best, but, as it involved the least departure from customary
practices, it was the system for which acceptance could be more easily
obtained. My ideal is a system which leaves the electors face to face
with the candidates without the intervention of lists presented by
parties; that is to say, that the method of voting indicated at the end
of the pamphlet[2] forwarded by you has my preference. It is the system
which I, inspired by the works of Mr. Hare, first proposed in Geneva,
but, in order to obtain a practical result, account has to be taken of
the habits and prejudices of the public to which the appeal is made, and
the best must often be renounced in order to obtain what is possible in
certain given circumstances." In a further letter Professor Naville was
even more emphatic. "I consider," said he, "the Hare system preferable
to that of competing lists. I have always thought so. I have always said
so. But our Swiss people are so accustomed to the _scrutin de liste_, or
multiple vote, that we could not obtain from them the profound
modification which would have been necessary to pass to the
Hare-Spence system."

_Partly the basis of representation in a list system._

The long familiarity of the Belgian electors with the _scrutin de liste_
also paved the way for the adoption of the list system of proportional
representation, but there is an additional reason why list systems have
found favour on the Continent. Some continental writers consider that
parties as such are alone entitled to representation in Parliament, and
are not enamoured of any scheme which makes personal representation
possible. This view is also taken by Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald, who,
speaking of the Belgian scheme, says that "it makes party grouping the
most important consideration in forming the legislative order, and is
therefore much truer to the facts of Government than any other
proportional representation scheme."[3] The Royal Commission on
Electoral Systems also seems to have accepted the continental theory,
that "in political elections it is the balance of parties which is of
primary importance." In England, however, representation has never
theoretically been based upon party. The limited vote, the cumulative
vote, the double vote in double-member constituencies, have all allowed
the elector complete freedom of action to follow party instructions, or
to act independently. The electoral method has not been chosen to suit
the convenience of party organizations; parties have had to adapt
themselves to the system of voting. The single transferable vote in
accordance with these traditions bases representation upon electors, and
preserves to them freedom to vote as they please. So much is this the
case that some critics consider it unsuitable for a system of
proportional representation, and although Mill evidently regarded the
Hare scheme not only as a system of personal representation, but as a
plan for securing the representation of majorities and minorities in due
proportion, the Royal Commission on Electoral Systems took the view that
the transferable vote "was not originally invented as a system of
proportional representation, but as a system of personal representation
to secure the return of men as men, not as party units." Again,
Professor Commons says that "the Hare system is advocated by those who,
in a too doctrinaire fashion, wish to abolish political parties."[4] But
in making this statement Professor Commons himself supplies the answer.
"They apparently do not realize," says he, "the impossibility of acting
in politics without large groups of individuals, nor do they perceive
that the Hare system itself, though apparently a system of personal
representation, would nevertheless result in party representation." The
more complete organization of parties is a direct consequence of the
more democratic franchise now existing. Political action in modern times
without organization is impossible. The Johannesburg municipal elections
in November 1909, despite the success of two independent candidates,
showed that the most effective way of conducting elections with the
transferable vote is that of organizations presenting lists of
candidates. Indeed, so great a part does organization take in the
political life of to-day that it is desirable, if possible, to have some
counteracting influence. The transferable vote supplies this by securing
for the elector the utmost measure of freedom of action.

This freedom of action is greatly appreciated by electors. A voter,
asked after the Johannesburg elections to give his impressions of the
new method of voting, stated that "the new system had put him on his
mettle. He had never experienced so much pleasure in the act of voting;
he had had to use his intelligence in discriminating between the claims
of the various candidates." Voting with the single transferable vote
ceases to be a purely mechanical operation, the voter becomes conscious
of the fact that in voting he is selecting a representative. It is of
little value to ask electors to exercise their intelligence if on the
day of the poll they have no means of doing so. There was some complaint
in Sweden after the first proportional representation elections because
the new system compelled an elector, if he wished to use his vote with
effect, to act rigidly with his party. With the transferable vote party
action has sufficient play. Electors can freely combine and vote as
parties, and effective organization will reap its legitimate reward. But
the elector will not be constrained to act against his wishes. He will
play an effective part in the election. In view of the great freedom
conferred by the single transferable vote on electors, it is not
surprising that the Royal Commission on Electoral Systems reported that
the "Belgian system is foredoomed to rejection by English public
opinion," and Mr. J. R. Macdonald states that "the British mind would
not submit to this (the Belgian) simplest and most efficient form of
proportional representation."

_The freedom of the elector within the party._

Even when representation is based, as in the list systems, upon parties
as such, it becomes necessary to determine the degree of liberty that
shall be allowed to the individual elector in the exercise of the
franchise. If a party has obtained five seats and the party has
nominated seven candidates, how are the five successful ones to be
selected, and what part is the elector to take in the selection? There
is considerable dissatisfaction in Belgium with that part of the system
which enables the party organizations to arrange the order in which the
names shall appear upon the ballot paper, although this order may have
been arrived at by a preliminary election among members of the party. In
the election of 1910 there was a considerable increase in the number of
voters who exercised their right of giving a vote of preference to
individual candidates. The extensive use of this right resulted at
Brussels in the alteration of the order of election as determined by the
party organizations, and Count Goblet d'Alviella points out that this
will demand the consideration of the political parties.[5] Some device
such as that of making the vote transferable within the list will be
required in order to ensure that the majority within the party shall
obtain its full share of the representation. As stated in the previous
chapter, the French Parliamentary Committee felt it necessary to provide
for the elector a greater freedom of action than is possible under the
Belgian system. In the report issued by this Committee in 1905 the use
of the limited vote was recommended; in the report of 1907 the
cumulative vote, which confers still greater freedom upon the elector,
was proposed. In the Swedish system electors not only have full power to
strike out, to add to or to vary the order in which candidates' names
appear upon the ballot papers issued by the party organizations, but
they have the opportunity of presenting a non-party list. The Finnish
electoral law was deliberately framed so as not to interfere with or to
check the liberty of the voter in making up the lists.[6] This law not
only allows the names of candidates to figure on more than one list, but
permits the voter to prepare a list of his own composed of any three of
the candidates who have been duly nominated. In a list system two
problems, the allotment of seats to parties and the selection of the
successful candidates, have to be solved and the solution must in each
case respect the personal freedom of the elector. With the single
transferable vote the same mechanism solves both problems; it gives to
each party its due proportion of seats, it determines in the most
satisfactory way which of the candidates nominated by a party shall be
declared elected, and it does not encroach in any way upon the elector's
freedom of action. There is one point in which the single transferable
vote differs essentially from the list systems. With the former the vote
never passes out of the control of the voter, and the returning officer
can only transfer the vote to some candidate whom the elector has named.
With the list systems adopted in Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and
Finland, or with that recommended by the French Parliamentary Committee,
a vote given for any one candidate is also a vote for the party which
has nominated the candidate, and the vote may contribute to the success
of some candidate of this party whose election the voter did not desire
to advance. This fact explains the difficulties which have been
associated with the formation of cartels in Belgium. A cartel is an
agreement between two parties to present a common list, and if, as has
taken place in some of the Belgian constituencies, Socialists and
Liberals present a combined list, a Liberal by voting for one of the
Liberal candidates of the cartel may contribute to the success of one of
the Socialist candidates. The Socialist voter may, on the other hand,
contribute to the return of a Liberal candidate. For this reason some
Liberals and some Socialists refuse to support cartels. In Sweden it is
possible that the elector's vote may, if he make use of a party ticket,
contribute to the return of some candidate whom he may have struck off
the list. If two parties agree to place the same motto at the head of
their respective lists, which may be quite distinct, a member of one
party may help to elect an additional candidate of the other party. Yet
a list system affords no way by which votes can be transferred from one
party to an allied party save by a cartel; if transferred at all they
must be transferred _en bloc_ from one party to another party, and not
from one candidate to another candidate, in accordance with the
expressed wishes of the elector. Mr. J. R. Macdonald states that
"proportional representation seeks to prevent the intermingling of
opinion on the margins of parties and sections of parties which is
essential to ordered and organic social progress." The statement is in
no sense true of the single transferable vote which affords every
facility for the intermingling of opinion on the margins of parties and
sections of parties, whilst even in Belgium groups within a party have
always presented a common list.

_Comparative accuracy._

Considerable discussion has taken place as to which of the list systems
yield the most accurate results. It is obvious that as electors do not
divide themselves into groups which are exactly one-fourth, one-fifth,
or one-sixth of the whole, the utmost that a system of proportional
representation can do in the allotment of seats is to approximate as
closely as possible to the proportions in which the electors are
divided. There is very little difference in the results obtained by the
various list systems and by the single transferable vote. The Belgian
(d'Hondt) rule slightly favours the larger party; this rule allots seats
to parties according to the number of times the party total contains the
common divisor, the votes remaining over being ignored. For this reason
other advocates of list systems prefer the simple rule-of-three or
_méthode rationelle._[7] With this system the total number of votes
polled is divided by the number of seats. The totals gained by the
respective lists are then divided by the quotient thus obtained and the
seats allotted to the lists accordingly. If after the allotment of seats
to the different lists there remain some seats not allotted, these are
awarded to the lists with the largest numbers of votes not utilized. The
transferable vote in practice, if not in theory, also awards seats to
the various parties according to the number of times the party total
contains the quota. If there is a seat not allotted it does not
necessarily fall to the party having the largest number of votes not
utilized. All the votes not utilized are taken into consideration, and
the smaller remainders may, by combination, win the odd seat. For
example, suppose that in a six-member constituency five seats have been
allotted and three candidates remain in competition for the last seat
with votes as follows:--

Candidate A 4,000
" B 3,000
" C 2,000

Then if the supporters of candidate C prefer B to A and have indicated
this fact on the ballot papers, the votes given to C would be
transferred to B, who would be elected to fill the last seat. With the
d'Hondt rule remainders are ignored; with the "rational method" the
largest remainders are favoured; with the single transferable vote the
last seat is awarded to the majority of the electors not otherwise
represented. The transferable vote therefore gives a result at least as
accurate as any of the rules devised in connexion with the list systems.
But in the majority of cases all three rules will yield the same result.


In the previous chapter reference has been made to the possible abuse of
_panachage_. In order to prevent such practice the Belgian system
provides that the elector shall vote for a member on one list only. In
Switzerland the elector is permitted to vote for members of more than
one list, and any abuse of this privilege is prevented by allowing the
elector to cumulate as many as three votes upon any of his favourite
candidates. This provision assures the return of the favourite
candidates of each party. The problem hardly arises with the single
transferable vote; the favourites of each party will doubtless always
receive more votes than are sufficient to ensure their election. The
elector who desires to advance the interests of his own party as much as
possible must indicate his preferences among all the members of his own
party before recording any preference for a candidate of another.

_Applicability to non-political elections._

The single transferable vote possesses another advantage over list
systems. It is not only applicable to political elections, but to all
elections in which it is desired that the elected body should be
representative in character, but in which party lists are undesirable.
The British Medical Association has decided to conduct all its elections
so far as possible by the transferable vote; Trades Unions have made use
of it in the election of their committees; it has been used in Australia
by the Labour party for the selection of parliamentary candidates by
members of the party before the date of election. Thus the single
transferable vote would produce a much to be desired uniformity in
method in different elections.


The list systems have an advantage over the transferable vote in the
simplicity of their solution of the problem of bye-elections. Under list
systems bye-elections are abolished. But the preliminary question,
whether it is desirable that they should be abolished, needs
consideration. The Report of the Royal Commission on Electoral Systems
says: "Neither the single transferable vote nor list systems provide for
a solution of the problem of bye-elections which is both fitted to
English ideas and practically satisfactory." The Report continues:
"Bye-elections are generally regarded as valuable, if rough, tests of
public approval or disapproval of the proceedings of the Government, and
useful indications of the trend of political feeling. A system,
therefore, which would abolish or seriously hamper them is bound to
excite opposition."[8] If bye-elections are desirable because of the
indications which they give of the trend of political feeling, then the
large constituencies which the proportional system demands would add to
their value. The opinion of a larger number of electors would
be obtained.

Wherever the single transferable vote has been adopted bye-elections
have been retained. In Tasmania, whenever a vacancy occurs the whole
constituency is polled; the Transvaal Municipal Act allows single
vacancies to remain unfilled, but provides for bye-elections when two or
more seats become vacant. The Proportional Representation Society, in
view of the demand for the retention of bye-elections, suggests that
single vacancies should be immediately filled by a bye-election when
they occur in a three-membered constituency, but that in larger areas no
bye-election should be held until two seats are vacated. But is not the
importance of bye-elections overrated? In many respects they are the
least satisfactory feature of English elections, and it is noticeable
that the change of opinion registered in a bye-election has often not
been maintained when the same constituency is polled at a General
Election. A considerable proportion of bye-elections are consequent upon
the taking of office by members of Parliament, and it is generally
agreed that such bye-elections are not necessary. Further, the House of
Commons has already resolved that it is desirable to reduce the length
of parliaments to five years, which in practice would mean a working
life of four years. The shortening of parliaments would destroy what
little value bye-elections possess.

With a system of proportional representation bye-elections may produce
results which are unfair to the minority. If, for example, at a General
Election a constituency returned four Conservatives, two Liberals, and
one Socialist, and the Socialist member died or retired during the
lifetime of the parliament, the largest party would at a bye-election be
able to gain another member at the expense of the smallest party in the
constituency. This possible injustice is avoided in the list systems by
the abolition of bye-elections. Supplementary members are chosen at the
time of the General Election, and these are called upon to fill
vacancies in the order of their election. The party character of
representation remains unchanged from one election to another. When the
cumulative vote was used for School Board elections casual vacancies
were filled by co-option, and the party in whose ranks the vacancy
occurred was usually allowed to nominate his successor by consent of the
whole Board. Doubtless were bye-elections abolished there would be a
similar willingness to act fairly towards the smaller parties, but if it
was felt desirable to bring the transferable vote into agreement with
the practice followed in the list systems the necessary arrangements
could be made. On the death or retirement of a member the quota of
ballot papers by which he was elected, kept meanwhile under official
seal, could be re-examined, and the candidate who had secured a majority
of the highest preferences recorded on the papers could be called upon
to fill the vacancy.

_Relative simplicity of scrutiny._

Experience shows conclusively that proportional systems, even the most
complex, present no great difficulty to the voter, and therefore there
is little to choose between them. The work thrown upon the returning
officer varies considerably, but in every country the returning officers
have proved equal to their task. The author has been present at Belgian
elections and at Swedish elections; he has conducted model elections in
England, and has been present at elections in the Transvaal, and has
therefore had some opportunity of judging different systems from the
point of view of facility in the counting of votes. The conclusion
arrived at is that the different schemes may be arranged in the
following order:--

1. The single transferable vote when the surplus votes are taken from
the top of the successful candidate's heap;

2. The Belgian list system with its single vote;

3. The single transferable vote with the surplus votes distributed
proportionately to the next preferences, as prescribed in the Schedule
of Lord Courtney's Municipal Representation Bill.

4. List systems in which more than one vote is recorded. With these, the
counting increases in difficulty with the complexity of the scheme.

The reasons for this conclusion are briefly these: Whenever the ballot
paper (as in the Belgian system and with the single transferable vote)
represents but one vote only, the process of counting consists of
sorting papers according to the votes given, and then in counting the
heaps of papers so formed. Whenever there is more than one vote recorded
upon a ballot paper it becomes necessary to extract the particulars of
each paper upon recording sheets. This is the case in the London Borough
Council elections, when the _scrutin de liste_ in its simple form is
used, and when, as in the list system proposed by the committee of the
French Chamber, the elector may cumulate or distribute his votes as he
pleases, selecting candidates from any or all the lists, this process of
extracting the details of the ballot papers must involve considerable
labour. By comparison, the process of sorting and counting ballot papers
is extremely simple. The Belgian law makes provision for the employment
of two "professional calculators," who are responsible for the accuracy
of the arithmetical calculations, and if the more accurate form of the
single transferable vote is adopted, it will be desirable that the
returning officer should have two assistants whose special duty it
should be to verify the accuracy of each stage of the process.

In any comparison between the two main systems of proportional
representation there is no need to understate the advantages of either.
The results which have followed from the adoption of list systems on the
continent have shown how immeasurably superior these are to ordinary
electoral methods. Even in the most rigid of these systems--the
Belgian--there is within each party considerable freedom of opinion in
respect of all political questions which do not spring directly from the
principles on which the party is based. It is claimed, however, for the
single transferable vote that it is more elastic than the most complex
of list systems, that it more freely adapts itself to new political
conditions, and that in small constituencies returning, say, five or
seven members, it yields better results. Moreover, this system, based as
it is upon the direct representation of the electors, has appealed with
greater force to English-speaking peoples; it has its advocates in South
Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as in England, and as
a common electoral method for the British Empire is a desideratum in
itself, the balance of advantage, at least for English-speaking peoples,
would appear to be with the single transferable vote.

[Footnote 1: October 1894.]

[Footnote 2: An address given by Miss Spence at River House, Chelsea,

[Footnote 3: _Socialism and Government_, vol. i. p. 146.]

[Footnote 4: _Proportional Representation_, New Edition, p. 104.]

[Footnote 5: "Il serait désirable que nos associations politiques se
prononcent plus explicitement sur sa légitimité, si l'on ne veut pas que
ce genre de propagande reste une duperie pour les candidats les plus
scrupuleux." --_Nos Partis Politiques au lendemain du 22 Mai 1910_,
p. 10.]

[Footnote 6: _Cf_. pamphlet, _The Finnish Reform Bill_, Helsingfors,

[Footnote 7: Readers who desire to follow the discussion as to the
comparative merits of the d'Hondt rule and the _méthode rationelle_,
should consult the following works:--

_Examen Critique des Divers Precédés de Répartition Proportionnelle en
Matière Electorale_, par M. E. Macquart; _Revue Scientifique_, 28
October 1905.

_La Représentation Proportionnelle et les Partis Politiques_, par M.
P.G. la Chesnais.

_La Vraie Représentation Proportionnelle_, par M. Gaston Moch.]

[Footnote 8: Ibid., par. 83.]



"Parties form and re-form themselves; they come together, dissolve, and
again come together; but in this flux and reflux a stability reigns such
as we observe amid similar phenomena in the course of nature; and indeed
it is the course of nature, only working in the world of politics
instead of the world of physics."--LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH

"To think in programmes is Egyptian bondage, and works the sterilization
of the political intellect."--AUGUSTINE BIRRELL

Hitherto the objection most often urged against proportional
representation has been that it is impracticable; the successful
working, however, of the single transferable vote in Tasmania, in the
elections of the South African Senate and in the Transvaal Municipal
elections, and of list systems in Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden,
Würtemberg and Finland has furnished a complete answer to this
objection. Manhood suffrage obtains in Belgium, adult suffrage in
Tasmania and Finland, and if, in countries possessing a franchise so
democratic, proportional systems have proved successful, it is no longer
possible to declare that proportional representation is impracticable.
Indeed, the practicability of proportional representation is now
generally admitted, and its critics prefer to lay stress upon objections
of another character. They even complain, as does Professor Jenks, that
"the supporters of the movement appear to be concentrating all their
arguments on the feasibility of their project, quietly assuming that its
desirability is axiomatic."[1] It does seem axiomatic that it is
desirable that representative institutions should reflect the views of
those represented, but it is now alleged that the representative
principle is merely "a means of getting things done," that the chief
function of the House of Commons is to provide the country with a strong
Government, and that proportional representation would render these
things impossible "because there would be no permanent majority strong
enough to get its own way."

_Proportional representation and the two-party system._

This fear of a weakened executive doubtless explains why many others who
admit the justice and practicability of proportional representation,
still hesitate to support a reform the effects of which may greatly
modify existing parliamentary conditions. "We have still," said _The
Westminster Gazette,_[2] "to be convinced that we shall do well to make
still more difficult the maintenance of the two-party system, and that
it seems to us would almost certainly be the effect of proportional
representation." Ten years ago some professed supporters of proportional
representation took up the extraordinary position of allowing it only in
respect of two great parties within a State,[3] and quoted in support of
their views the words of Professor Paul Reinsch in his work on _World
Politics:_ "It is still as true as when Burke wrote his famous defence
of party, in his _Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents_,
that, for the realization of political freedom, the organization of the
electorate into regular and permanent parties is necessary.
Parliamentary government has attained its highest success only in those
countries where political power is held alternately by two great
national parties." Is no allowance to be made for the fluidity of
progressive democracy? Is it imagined that active political thought can
be compelled to follow stereotyped channels? Too profound a respect for
a system designed to meet former conditions led the Royal Commission on
Electoral Methods to the conclusion that, "reviewing the whole of the
evidence, and duly considering the gravity of the change involved, we
are unable to report that a case has been made out before us for the
adoption of the transferable vote here and now for elections to the
House of Commons."[4] The Commission proceed "to emphasize the exact
nature and limitations of this conclusion," which ultimately amounts to
no more than a suggestion for the postponement of an inevitable
change.[5] But the fact remains that the Royal Commission accepted the
theory of government placed before it by those who desire to maintain
the existing party system and who are of opinion that that system can
only be maintained by single-member constituencies and the majority
method of election. "On the question," says the Commission, "whether the
representation of all parties in proportion to their voting strength is
in itself desirable, we may point out that it is not a fair argument
against the present system that it fails to produce such a result,
because it does not profess to do so. A General Election is, in fact,
considered by a large portion of the electorate of this country as
practically a referendum on the question which of two governments shall
be returned to power."[6] " ... The case of those who hold that the
transferable vote is not capable of application in this country rests
only to a very slight extent on its mechanical difficulties.... The most
potent arguments are a theory of representation on the one hand and a
theory of government on the other."[7] It is evident that the most
important objection which advocates of proportional representation have
to meet concerns its probable effect upon party organization and upon
party government, and it is therefore necessary to consider this
objection in detail.

_Burke's view of party and party discipline._

In the first place, can Burke's definition of party be used in defence
of modern party organization and discipline? The character of these has
fundamentally changed since Burke's time. His conception of national
parties and also, perhaps, of the probable influence of a system of
proportional representation upon their formation may be gathered from
his own words. "Party," says Burke, "is a body of men united for
promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest upon some
particular principle in which they are all agreed. For my part I find it
impossible to conceive that any one believes in his own politics, or
thinks them to be of any weight, who refuses to adopt the means of
having them reduced into practice. It is the business of the speculative
philosopher to mark the proper ends of government. It is the business of
the politician, who is the philosopher in action, to find out proper
means towards those ends, and to employ them with effect. Therefore
every honourable connexion will avow it is their first purpose to pursue
every just method to put the men who hold their opinions into such a
condition as may enable them to carry their common plans into execution,
with all the power and authority of the state." No advocate of
proportional representation would in the least quarrel with Burke's
definition of party or deny that sustained effort and efficient
organization are absolutely essential if practical effect is to be given
to political principles. Burke, however, did not contemplate a party
system in which complete submission to the programme of the party was
considered an essential condition of membership. Burke's definition of
party must be read in conjunction with his own interpretation of the
term. "In order," says he, "to throw an odium on political connexion,
these politicians suppose it a necessary incident to it that you are
blindly to follow the opinions of your party, when in direct opposition
to your own clear ideas; a degree of servitude that no worthy man could
bear the thought of submitting to; and such as, I believe, no connexions
(except some court factions) ever could be so senselessly tyrannical as
to impose. Men thinking freely will, in particular instances, think
differently. But still as the greater part of the measures which arise

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