Che materia stai cercando?



it, even though many of them wish there was less of it” (Gallagher and Komito

1999, p.219).

Equally in a small society, such as Ireland, the role of the TD as a key local stakeholder within

the local community who is accessible to voters may increase constituency workloads. It is also

important to note that backbench TDs can also be local councillors and they may also contribute

to a localist attitude where TDs also hold office as local councillors. Accordingly, the

representation of constituency interests does not have to be viewed as detrimental but rather a

key task of an elected representative. Therefore the extent to which STV is responsible for

constituency demands is debateable or as Gallagher and Komito (1999) comment:

“The electoral system gives deputies a strong incentive to respond with alacrity

to the demand that they do constituency work, but it doesn’t really explain

where this demand comes from in the first place” (p.220).

Alternatively some commentators suggest that it is not the electoral system which is responsible

for a localist emphasis amongst TDs but rather Irish political culture. For example, Farrell

(2001) comments:

“The fact is that Irish political culture is personified by a high degree of localism

and it would be disingenuous to suppose that somehow this would dissipate if

the electoral system were changed” (p.146).

Whether STV is responsible for the development of a localist political culture would therefore

appear to be a moot point with other socio-cultural factors also likely to be causal influences.

Composition of the Dail

The backgrounds of TDs are “not especially different from other west European parliaments”

(Gallagher 2003, p.16). TDs tend to have strong local connections and were frequently county

councillors before becoming TDs. Notably, a considerable proportion are following on from

relatives who previously represented their constituency suggesting a degree of inheritance of a

local political base by some TDs (see Gallagher 2003). With regard to the representation of

women in the Dail the proportion of women elected compares rather poorly with other

parliaments in EU member states. For example:

“In 1998 it [the Dail] shared eleventh place out of the fifteen EU member states,

alongside Belgium and ahead only of France, Italy and Greece” (Galligan 1999,


Similarly women’s involvement in local government is low with participation rates similar to that

in the Dail (see Galligan, 1999). However to suggest that this lack of participation is a

consequence of STV would be to neglect wider societal factors. However, it does also indicate

that the presence of STV has not acted as a significant stimulus to increasing the representation

of women in politics. Galligan (1999) comments on this issue as follows:

“Ireland ranks close to the bottom of the European scale in terms of women’s

representation in political life, yet there is no discernible bias among the

electorate against women candidates. Women remain under-represented as

election candidates, although parties are making some progress towards

redressing this imbalance. The number of women candidates has increased

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over the years, but is still fewer than 20 per cent of all candidates in national

elections. This is due to a combination of social and structural factors that

inhibit women’s political activity, and to a resistance within the parties to giving

serious consideration to providing gender balance on candidate tickets” (p.316-



As in the Republic of Ireland the introduction of STV for elections to Stormont and local

authorities formed part of the provisions of the Government of Ireland Act (1920) which

introduced partition and thereby created the province of Northern Ireland. Whilst the

introduction of STV in Southern Ireland was uncontroversial, and had the support of senior

nationalist politicians as a useful means of protecting the rights of the minority Protestant

community, a similar situation did not apply in Northern Ireland. Instead “many unionists in what

became Northern Ireland were opposed to proportional representation and strongly favoured

retaining the ‘traditional British’ plurality system” (Mitchell and Gillespie 1999, p.67). As a result

the Northern Ireland Government abolished STV for local government elections in 1922.

However STV was used for elections to Stormont in 1921 and 1925.

The 1921 election returned a secure unionist majority to Stormont, whereas the 1925 election

witnessed the loss of 8 unionist seats within the 52 seat legislature to Independents, and the

Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP). The emergence of the NILP as a party not centred upon

the ethno-nationalist divide in Northern Ireland (albeit pro-partition), suggested that STV was

assisting with a de-fragmentation of the party political spectrum in the early years of Stormont.

By the next election in 1929, Northern Ireland had returned to First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) to

elect Stormont. Mitchell and Gillespie (1999) account for this change in electoral systems as

follows: “Fearing the continuation of such a trend [the loss of unionist seats at the 1925

election], unionists decided to revert to plurality rule. Although there is some

unresolved debate concerning whether the change was principally designed to

weaken Labour and independent candidates or to further undermine the

strategic position of nationalists, there is no doubt that the reversion to plurality

elections entrenched the dominance of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) (p.68).

In effect the return to FPTP acted to reinforce in party political and institutional terms the divide

between the ethno-nationalist groups in Northern Ireland. Elections to Stormont were

conducted via FPTP until the introduction of direct rule from London in 1973. Northern Irish

elections to Westminster are conducted by FPTP. The introduction of direct rule also brought

the return of STV for local government elections whilst STV is also used for European

Parliament elections and for elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The rules used for

STV in Northern Ireland are the same as those contained in the draft ‘Local Governance

(Scotland) Bill (2003)’.

Local authorities in Northern Ireland were reorganised in the early 1970s into twenty-six district

councils. Local authorities in Northern Ireland have fairly limited responsibilities. Councils are

responsible for the direct provision of minor services such as environmental health, cleansing,

litter, parks, cemeteries, sport, culture, enforcement of building regulations, licensing premises

for public safety purposes and the registration of births, marriages and deaths. These limited

powers have resulted in a public perception which “derisively dismisses district councils as

having responsibility solely for ‘bins, bogs and burials” (Lucy 1994, p.1).

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Local government elections are held every four years. Candidates stand for elections in District

Electoral Areas (DEAs) which comprise a number of wards. Between 5 and 7 councillors are


elected per DEA. Responsibility for local authority and DEA boundaries rests with the

Commission for Northern Ireland. Perhaps partly as a consequence of this lack of powers

turnout in local authority elections has been in decline since the early 1980’s. For example,


turnout in the local authority election of 1973 was 68.1% compared to 53.6% in 1997 . In 2001,

the local authority elections were held on the same day as the UK General Election resulting in

a turnout of 68%. As was the case in the Republic of Ireland the evidence from Northern Ireland

local elections tend to show that whilst election results are more proportional than under FPTP

larger political parties tend to obtain a larger number of seats than their proportion of the votes

would entitle them to. For example, Lucy (1994) commenting on the 1989 local election results

noted: “The UUP in 1989 secured a more modest bonus compared to that in 1993 but

the DUP bonus was greater. The SDLP received a modest bonus of two rather

than being penalised. As in 1993 both the Alliance and Labour achieved exact

proportionality. Sinn Fein once again was the party most adversely affected,

securing twenty seats less than proportionality” (p.161-162).

A factor underpinning the underperformance of Sinn Fein in turning votes into seats and the

UUP’s over performance lies in the pattern of preference transfer between parties. STV is an

electoral system which is ‘information-rich’ in that it enables the analysis of vote transfers and

thereby of the relationship between parties in terms of preferences. Accordingly, political parties

can try to engage in implicit election coalitions with parties or at least indicate preferences in

order to attempt to guide the preferences of voters. However Sinn Fein tended not to benefit

from transfers from other parties, principally the SDLP, and this contributed to Sinn Fein

receiving fewer seats. In contrast transfer rates between Unionist parties were significant and

assisted in additional seats being obtained. Mitchell (1999) commented on this pattern during

the 1980’s as follows:

“The greater extent of vote-splitting amongst nationalists reflected deeper

divisions between the SDLP and SF than among the unionist parties. The two

nationalist parties are divided in their electorates, policies and tactics. The

polarisation of their electorates is revealed in STV elections by the very low

transfer rates between the parties” (p.106).

The party structure of Northern Ireland politics is frequently referred to as a dual system with

competition between parties for votes within their own community (either nationalist or unionist)

rather than across the whole electorate. For example Mitchell (1999) comments:

“At each election, it is only a mild exaggeration to say that two simultaneous but

largely separate elections take place. Each community holds its own discrete

election to decide who will represent the community in dealings with the ethno-

national rivals: Unionist and nationalist parties do not, thereby, meaningfully

compete for each other’s electorate since very few such floating voters exist”


9 Information provided by an academic from Northern Ireland.

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Part of the rationale for using STV for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections is that the

system provides voters with the opportunity to cross party divides. Analysis of the 1998

Assembly election results led Mitchell (2001) to conclude that there was:

“evidence of significant changes in voting behaviour, …. Some of the voters of

pro-Agreement candidates displayed a new-found willingness to cross the

communal divide in order to support each other with lower preferences. Most

dramatically, UUP votes transferred to the SDLP at a rate of 34 per cent” (p.44).

Accordingly, whilst STV may have the potential to facilitate cooperation within divided

communities, the transfer process may also assist parties which have allies or partners.

Mitchell (2001) notes that:

“While the adoption of STV – or any other electoral system – cannot in itself do

much to end protracted conflicts, it does provide electoral rewards to those who

engage in accommodative behaviour. Parties with electoral partners, other

things being equal, win more seats. In addition, in order for parties to attract a

greater number of lower preferences, they need to appeal to voters identified

with other parties, and hence STV can exert a moderating dynamic” (p.34).



Malta was a colony within the British Empire until 1964 when it became an independent state

within the Commonwealth. In 1974, Malta attained its current constitutional status as an

independent Republic. STV has been the electoral system used in Malta since 1921. The

Maltese Parliament, known as the House of Representatives, is a unicameral legislature

consisting of 65 members. The Maltese Government is drawn from the largest party in the

Parliament. Elections in Malta must be held at least once every five years. Local government in

Malta is a relatively recent innovation having been created in 1993. There are currently 67 local

councils in Malta which are also elected using STV consisting of between 5 and 13 local

councillors per council depending upon the community’s size. The powers of local authorities

are limited to the handling of minor services within local communities such as street

maintenance and the upkeep of local amenities. Councils cannot levy their own taxes with

budgets being obtained via central government grants. Councils are elected every three years

with a third of councils being elected every year (See Hirczy de Mino and Lane, 2003).


At present the 65 members of the Maltese Parliament are elected via 13 districts consisting of

five members each. Electoral districts must be of the same population size within a margin of

5%. There are a number of rules in place which distinguish the operation of STV in Malta from

that in other countries. Firstly, the Maltese Constitution provides that the party which obtains

the majority of first preference votes must have a majority of the seats in Parliament (see

discussion on proportionality below). Secondly, it is common practice for a candidate to stand in

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more than one district at an election. However a successful candidate can only take up their

seat in one constituency and resign from any other seats for which they have been elected.

Lastly, where casual vacancies (i.e. by-elections) occur, for example because a candidate was

elected in more than one seat, vacated seats are filled using a recount of the ballot papers from

the original election. A successful candidate is required to obtain 50% of the votes.

Accordingly, the manner in which STV is implemented in Malta is distinct from that adopted in

other locations.


The Polarisation of Maltese Party Politics

STV tends to be theorised as a system which offers the opportunity for a broader range of

parties to be elected than would be the case under a majoritarian system such as First Past the

Post. However the Maltese experience has been that the country has moved from being a

multi-party system in the 1950s and 1960s to becoming a two-party system since the early

1970’s. Whilst Maltese party politics has always been dominated by the Maltese Labour Party

(MLP) and the Nationalists (PN) there were initially a number of smaller parties although most

were short-lived. Currently the third party in Maltese politics is Alternattiva Demokratika (AD)

but the party has never been able to win a seat in the Maltese Parliament. Maltese politics is

therefore highly polarised around the two major political parties. The results of the last two

Maltese General Elections in 1998 and 2003 (see Table Four) demonstrate the extent of this


Table Four – Result of Elections to the Maltese Parliament, 1998 and 2003

1998 2003

Party Seats Votes (‘000) Votes % Seats Votes (‘000) Votes %

PN 35 137 51.8 35 146 51.8

MLP 30 124 47.0 30 134 47.5

AD - 3 1.2 - 2 0.7

Turnout 95.4% 96.2%

Source: Fenech (2003) p.164.

Table Four demonstrates that the turnout in the 1998 and 2002 General Elections was

extremely high. Turnout has been rising consistently in Malta since the post-war period with a

low of 73.9% in 1950 comparing to levels of participation around 95% to 96% being the norm

since the mid-1970s. In large part this extremely high level of turnout can be attributed to the

highly polarised nature of Maltese politics. There are also extremely low proportions of invalid

ballots, typically around 1% of all ballots in Malta, suggesting that voters understand the voting

process (Hirczy de Mino 2003, p.191). At local government level, turnout is lower probably

because of the limited powers of local councils, as Hirczy de Mino and Lane (2003) note:

“Probably as a consequence of these limited powers and financial resources,

the voter turnout for local elections has lagged far behind that for national

elections. In the first election cycle, only 65 percent of the eligible voters cast

valid votes, and this declined to 61 percent in the second cycle of elections”


Given the polarisation of voting patterns between the two major parties, the minor parties and

Independents are squeezed in Maltese politics. In effect, to stand as an independent in Maltese

politics is “a virtual invitation to electoral defeat” (Hirczy de Mino and Lane 2003, p.190). The

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polarisation of Maltese politics is reflected in the lack of cross-party transfer of preferences by

voters. Maltese voters tend to stop ranking candidates when they have voted for all of the

candidates of their preferred party. In this way, Maltese voters ensure that other parties cannot

benefit from their vote. In Maltese elections the “percentage of cross-party transfers is about

1% on ballots” (Hirczy de Mino and Lane, 2003, p.192). Despite the dominance of the two main

parties the barriers to standing as a candidate are few. In order to stand for election a Maltese

voter needs only to self-nominate, have four supporting signatures and pay an election deposit

of roughly $100 which is refundable if the candidate obtains 10% of the quota in the district in

which the election is taking place. Accordingly the dominance of the two parties appears to

result not from the electoral system and the rules which underpin it but rather from the choices

made by Maltese voters.

Intra-Party Competition

As was noted in the case of Republic of Ireland, intra-party competition forms a key component

of STV and this is also true of Maltese politics. Because voting patterns are fairly stable and

largely predictable the major threat to candidates tends to be from other candidates within the

same party. In comparing the causes of defeat to candidates in Ireland and Malta, Gallagher

(2003b) makes the following comments:

“For incumbents of Ireland’s largest party, Fianna Fail, the main threat comes

from within party ranks; for other incumbents, the main danger lies without. ….

In Malta the balance is quite different. Defeats to opponents are rare, and by

far the most common cause of defeat is at the hands of a running mate” (p.110-


This situation is exacerbated not only by candidates standing in more than one seat but also by

parties putting up either five or more candidates in districts which have only 5 seats available in

them. Given the polarisation of party politics in Malta, most districts tend to be split 3:2 between

the two main parties whilst no party has ever won all five seats within a district. Hirczy de Mino

and Lane (2003) account for the over-nomination of candidates by Maltese parties as follows:

“Because there is a long-standing pattern of most transfers benefiting other

candidates of the same party, there is little risk in offering substantially more

candidates than a party could possibly hope to elect in a district. In fact, a

greater range and diversity of candidates may benefit a large party because it

puts it in a position to attract voters through the candidates’ own personal

networks of family and friends. It also allows them to cater to any conceivable

taste or predilection among its potential constituency as long as a suitable

candidate can be found” (p.188).

Given the small population of Malta it is perhaps not surprising that personal networks form a

key component of political dealings. Hirczy de Mino and Lane (2003) comment on this aspect of

Maltese politics as follows:

“Many voters expect candidates to promise to be helpful in obtaining some of

the numerous favours that a government in Malta can provide. More than one-

third of the work force is employed by the government directly or by

government-controlled enterprises; there is a sizeable supply of public housing

and a host of licensing laws – all of which provide tempting targets of political

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favouritism. One idealistic, and unsuccessful, MLP candidate in 1987

complained that ‘the vote has become a negotiable instrument – a bill of

exchange – rather than something that is based on principles and the party

programme. If someone asks me to try to get them a job or a flat or whatever, I

often get very irritated” (p.190).


Maltese General Elections tend to be closely contested, given the dominance of the MLP and

PN within the Maltese political system, with support for the two parties being fairly evenly split.

Because STV combines proportionality with maintaining a local connection a degree of

disproportionality, as compared to other forms of PR such as list systems, does occur. In a

political system, such as Malta, where competition between two parties is close this can result in

significant ramifications. In the 1981 General Election the MLP won 49.1% of first preference

votes and 52.3% of the seats in Parliament. In contrast, the PN had won 50.9% of first

preference votes. As a consequence the Nationalist Party refused to accept the outcome of the

election and boycotted the Parliament. The situation was defused by a revision to the Maltese

Constitution which provided that a party which obtains a majority of first preference votes, but

only a minority of parliamentary seats, will obtain sufficient ‘bonus seats’ to ensure that the party

concerned has a majority in the Parliament. Accordingly, the Maltese Parliament can consist of

more than 65 members depending upon the election result. In effect, a vote in Malta now has

two functions. Firstly, to elect a government and, secondly, to elect an individual candidate (see

Hirczy de Mino and Lane, 2003).

Electoral Reform

Since the crisis following the Maltese General Election electoral reform has been an issue in

White Paper on Electoral Reform,

Maltese politics. A Maltese Government issued in 1990,

proposed a number of reasons for electoral reform. These included the evolution in party

organisation which had occurred since 1921, the need to take account of modern technology in

order to modernise electoral procedures and to enhance the provisions making legal guarantees

against electoral fraud. However, the main focus of the White Paper was upon providing a

‘more’ proportional system of election reflecting concerns following the 1981 election. The

White Paper commented that:

“The principle aim of the proposed reform is the introduction of a new method of counting

of votes to ensure a much stricter proportionality between the votes polled by a particular

party on a national basis and the seats assigned to that party in Parliament” (p.3).

The White Paper went on to propose the d’Hondt electoral system. A later ‘Commission on the

Electoral System’ established by the Maltese Government in 1994 was unable to reach

agreement on the issue of proportionality, although it did make some recommendations which

were subsequently agreed to that were designed to speed up the vote counting process.

However the proposals of the Government were not implemented as:

“no agreement could be reached between the two major parties because

although they seemingly agreed that governability was more important than

proportionality, they differed on such issues as the disposition of votes cast for

losing minor party candidates” (p.201).

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The political development of the Isle of Man is distinctive, although closely linked to, that of the

United Kingdom (UK). The Isle of Man has managed to retain its own separate political identity

over the course of the previous Millennium at no stage being fully assimilated into an external

political system. Ultimate authority for the island has rested with Norway, Scotland, England

and the UK but nevertheless considerable power remained devolved to Isle of Man institutions.


Tynwald, the Manx Parliament, since the 10 Century is emblematic of the

The existence of th

separate political identity of the island. During the course of the 20 Century the Isle of Man

was a Crown dependency whose relationship with the UK moved from one of strict UK control to

virtual autonomy as far as purely internal matters were concerned (Kermode 2001).

The UK Government is represented by a Lieutenant Governor who is technically the head of

Government. However in recent years this post has become largely symbolic as power has

passed to Tynwald and the Executive branch of Tynwald (Executive Council / Council of

Ministers). The Tynwald Parliament consists of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council.

The House of Keys is the lower house of Parliament and consists of 24 directly elected

members. Elections are held every 5 years. The Legislative Council, or upper house of

Parliament, is appointed and consists of the President of Tynwald, Attorney General, Lord

Bishop of Sodor and Man, 3 ex officio members and 8 members elected by the House of Keys.

These two houses of the Tynwald Parliament consider legislation separately with Bills being

passed if they receive a majority vote in each House.

The most noticeable feature of politics in the Isle of Man is the absence of a party political

system. Tynwald is dominated by Independents and although there have been attempts to

organise political parties, notably the Manx Labour Party, Independents have consistently

formed the majority of representatives within Tynwald (Kermode, 2002). Elections to the House

of Keys are conducted via First-Past the Post (FPTP) using one, two and three member


constituencies . Kermode (2002) describes the political culture of the Isle of Man in the

following terms:

“Individual personalities and achievements rather than political parties

determine the outcomes of Manx elections. Policy differences between

candidates are often so small that the choice for electors is one between

personalities. Even where parties have contested elections, there is evidence

that particular candidates succeed or fail despite their party label. On occasions

when parties fielded more than one candidate in a two- or three- member

constituency, where electors have as many votes as there are seats, the

performance of candidates has varied widely, suggesting voting for the

individual rather than the party” (p.693).

Whilst the Isle of Man currently uses FPTP for elections, the island introduced STV for elections

to the House of Keys and for local government in 1982. The Isle of Man reverted to using FPTP

10 At present there are 15 constituencies electing 24 representatives to Tynwald. There are 8 single member

constituencies, 5 two member constituencies and, 2 three member constituencies.

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for all elections in 1994. The reasons for the introduction of STV, the experience of it on the Isle

of Man and the reasons behind its replacement are the subject of the following sections. Given

the lack of evidence concerning the use of STV in local government elections the following

sections focus upon the use of STV to elect the House of Keys.


In 1979 the Isle of Man Executive Council appointed a Commission, chaired by Professor David

Butler, to investigate representation in, and elections to, the House of Keys. The terms of

reference for the Commission were:

“to investigate and report within one year on how the principle of ensuring that

the Manx electorate have absolute equality in choosing the representatives they

seek can be implemented and thus reflect the wishes and desires of the

majority of the electorate” (Butler 1980, p.1).

As the remit of the Commission suggests there was a perception that there was a lack of

equality amongst voters as some voters could vote for up to three representatives whilst others

could elect only one representative. Butler (1980) also highlighted variations in the number of

electors per constituency and concerns over constituency boundaries as being reasons for the

Commission being established. The Commission recommended that STV be introduced using

3 member constituencies. STV was viewed, by the Commission, as particularly suitable for the

Isle of Man given the absence of party politics on the island. In addition the Commission had

received evidence indicating general support for the use of multi-member constituencies, which

were already in use on the island. From the Commission’s perspective they had the advantage

that: “an elector with a problem can turn to the representative of his choice, and,if he

is not available, to another” (p.13).

The Commission received evidence indicating that STV would ensure that the voter was not

wasting their vote which was a particular concern with FPTP particularly as the number of

candidates at elections increased. For example, in the House of Keys elections of 1976, 43% of

votes went to unsuccessful candidates whilst in one constituency the figure was 62% (Butler,

1980, p.16). The STV system was also seen as beneficial as it would avoid the problem of

‘plumping’ (where a voter expresses a preference for only one candidate despite having the

opportunity to cast a number of preferences). Accordingly, Butler recommended that voters

should cast at least as many votes as there were seats available to be filled. ‘Plumping’ had

been a cause of concern to voters in multi-member seats under FPTP in the Isle of Man. With

regard to the potential complexity of the system Butler (1980) commented:

“We see no reason to believe that voting under the STV system would prove

difficult for the voter; if it presents no problem to the Irish or the Australians, it

will certainly not baffle the Manx” (p.23).


The recommendations of the Commission were initially not accepted by the House of Keys in

1981 but a later private members Bill, which enacted the Commission’s recommendations,

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successfully passed through Tynwald in 1982. STV operated in the Isle of Man for the 1986

and 1991 elections to the House of Keys. However, three member constituencies were not

implemented across the Island. Instead there remained a mix of one, two and three member

constituencies. In 1986, of the 15 constituencies 2 were three member constituencies, 5 were

two member constituencies and the remainder were one member constituencies.

The 1986 election to the House of Keys was the first to use STV. In total 74 candidates stood

for election with 14 of the 15 seats being contested (there was only one candidate in the

remaining seat). Of the 74 candidates, 63 were Independents and 11 were party candidates.

The two parties being represented were the Manx Labour Party (MLP) fielding six candidates,

and the newly established Manx Democratic Party (MDP) with five candidates. The MLP won

three seats and the MDP none resulting in 21 Independents being elected. In terms of the

number of counts required to determine who was elected (discounting the unopposed

candidate) 12 candidates achieved the quota at the first count, four after a second count, one

after a third, two after a fifth, two after a seventh and two after an eighth count. Kermode (2001)

commented on the election result as follows:

“Interestingly, in every case, the one, two or three candidates with the most first

preference votes were elected, leading some critics to argue that the results

would have been identical under the old system. While that may have been

true of the eight single member constituencies, it is impossible to be sure in the

case of the seven constituencies where the electorate would have had two or

three votes” (p.319).

Prior to the next election to the House of Keys in 1991 a Member of the House of Keys (MHK),

Dominic Delaney, was successful in getting legislation passed which allowed for plumping to

take place (i.e. voters could vote for only one candidate regardless of the number of seats within

a constituency). In the 1991 election there were 73 candidates and contests in 13 of the 15

constituencies. There were five party candidates. The three sitting Manx Labour Party

candidates successfully defended their seats. Two candidates from the Manx Green Party lost

their deposits. Whilst one seat required ten counts before all the candidates were elected the

maximum number of counts required in any of the other constituencies was six. Ten candidates

were elected after the first count. As in 1986 the successful candidates in the 13 contested

constituencies were those with the most first preference votes after the first count (Kermode



In 1994 Tynwald voted for a return to FPTP. Kermode (2001) summarises this outcome in the

following terms:

“In January 1994 Tynwald approved a resolution moved by David Corlett

declaring that STV was inappropriate for the Island; it was carried by 15 votes to

seven in the Keys and unanimously in the Legislative Council. Corlett

condemned STV as unpopular, misunderstood and mathematically complicated

and sought a return to the first-past-the-post system. He achieved this goal by

moving a successful amendment to the consolidation legislation being promoted

by the Council of Ministers and which became law as the Representation of the

People Act 1995. As a result the Island returned to the inequality of voting

opportunities associated with the mixture of single, two and three member

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constituencies, with each voter having as many votes as there were seats in the

constituency” (p.310-311).

The opening statement by David Corlett in the House of Keys on the motion to remove STV

provides a flavour of the objections which were raised by critics of STV on the Isle of Man. Mr

Corlett spoke to his motion in the following terms:

“So what are the most obvious shortcomings of our present system? Firstly, it

is complicated for the voter. Secondly, it is unwieldy and it is certainly complex

for the returning officer. Thirdly, it is quite possible that it does deter some

people from voting. It is often misunderstood in that voters may feel that they

are entering an order of preference for more than one seat. In fact, they are

showing preference for the candidate who will receive their one and only vote.

Fifthly (sic), an elector has to vote for every candidate, including those he or she

does not wish to see returned, but the fact that this has been waived now also

invalidates the procedures” (Tynwald Court 1994, T285).

The demise of STV in the Isle of Man can also be attributed to factors other than those

mentioned above. Firstly, the implementation of STV was done in a piecemeal manner. The

Butler Commission had recommended STV alongside a reform of constituency boundaries and

the establishment of 3 member constituencies. Instead, STV was largely grafted onto the pre-

existing constituencies which elected a range of one to three representatives. Accordingly,

problems regarding the ‘equality’ of votes between constituencies in the Isle of Man continued

with the introduction of STV. Secondly, the reintroduction of ‘plumping’ led to a recurrence of

problems which had existed prior to the introduction of STV.

The Isle of Man has now returned to holding elections under FPTP with multi-member

constituencies. However, a select committee established by the Isle of Man Legislative Council

is currently considering the electoral system for Isle of Man elections.


It is worth mentioning the use of STV in Estonia as the country was, for a short time, the

exception to the rule that STV was only used in countries with a British imperial background.

STV was used for local elections in December 1989 and for a national election in 1990. The

use of STV clearly occurred at a time of significant social, political and regime change within

Estonia and Eastern Europe more generally. The choice of STV for elections was a

compromise decision made by the major political parties in Estonia at that time. These were:

the Communist Party of Estonia (CPE), Popular Front of Estonia (PFE), and the Joint Council of

Work Collectives (JCWC). Taagepera (1998) comments on the reason for this compromise as

follows: “It [STV] was adopted because it satisfied the Communist need to avoid party

lists and labels while still leading to vague proportional representation. The

district magnitude (seats per constituency) was left to the discretion of local

powerholders, which satisfied the JCWC, because they could and did chose

one-seat districts in the north-east, reducing STV to Australian-type alternative

vote” (p.30).

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The rules surrounding the use of STV also varied from those used in other countries. As noted

in the above quote, the number of candidates elected in each constituency varied from one to

five candidates with the number of candidates from each seat being determined by local county

and local authorities. A legacy of the Soviet era was that a turnout of at least 50% was required

before an election result could be considered valid. In addition, the electoral rules also required

that: “a candidate must attain 50% of the first place votes in order to win election. If

not, then a runoff election was to be held in which the top two contenders were

to be pitted against one another (if there were ties between three or more

candidates for first place and two or more candidates for second place, then the

number of second place votes received acted as a tie breaker, and so on”

(Ishiyama 1996, p.493).

In the context of the socio-political upheaval in Estonia during the time-period when STV was

used it is not entirely surprising that the electoral system was changed. A number of reasons

have been posited for this decision. Taagepera (1998) notes that some parties criticised STV

for weakening emerging party structures whilst also commenting:

“many Estonians were uneasy about their inability to figure out how the votes

were converted into seats, and they suspected opportunity for fraud, although

no formal complaints were lodged” (p.31).

Ishiyama (1996) also notes that STV was perceived as inhibiting the emergence of political

parties and noted that this made STV “dangerous for a country beset by regionalism and the

potential for ethnic conflict” (p.499).


Consideration of the practice of using STV demonstrates the wide range of variation in both the

rules underpinning STV and of the differing electoral outcomes which STV has produced in

different settings. As Farrell and McAllister (2003c) note, STV “is probably more accurately

described as an evolving family of vote counting rules rather than a single rule” (p.6). The

limited number of cases of countries using STV and the variations in how STV has been applied

ensures that caution should be exercised when seeking to make generalisations regarding the

operation of STV. In addition, the review of the locations where STV has been used

demonstrates that particular outcomes are not determined by STV. For example, multi-partism

can develop in Ireland whilst a two-party system flourishes in Malta. In this sense, the electoral

system does not determine particular outcomes but rather how voters use the system which will

vary from location to location. As Gallagher (1998) observes:

“STV tends to arouse strong feelings among both supporters and opponents.

The evidence suggests that its advocates may be unduly optimistic about the

consequences expected to flow from the adoption of STV, while few if any of

the fears of critics have much substance” (p.6).

Nevertheless, some limited areas of commonality can be suggested from the consideration of

the previous cases. Firstly, STV tends to produce reasonably proportional results and certainly

more proportional results than FPTP. Secondly, STV appears effective at maintaining linkages

between politicians and local communities and indeed it is often criticised for fostering too

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localistic a political culture. Thirdly, whilst voters appear not to have any difficulty voting in STV

elections there have been cases, for example in the Isle of Man, where the issue of whether

voters understand how results are arrived at has been of concern. Lastly, electoral campaigns

under STV can also involve intra-party campaigning as well as inter-party campaigning although

evidence of party coherence and governmental stability does not appear to be affected.

The limited application of STV to former British empire countries is related to the connection

which the system makes between obtaining relatively proportional results and maintaining a

connection between elected representatives and constituencies. However part of the reason for

the limited uptake of the system appears to rest on the power which STV provides to voters at

the expense of political parties. This position can be summarised as follows:

“STV, unlike other PR systems, does not guarantee (though in practice it

delivers) proportional representation of parties. Indeed, unlike PR list systems,

it does not presuppose the existence of political parties, and underpinning the

arguments of some of its most avid proponents one can detect a degree of

hostility to the idea that cohesive, disciplined parties should be at the centre of

modern democratic politics. Given that in practice electoral rules are decided

by parties – or at least, parties control the options that get onto the agenda – it

is perhaps not surprising that no established democracy has switched from

another electoral system to STV” (Gallagher 1998, p.5).

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All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution. (2002) Seventh Progress Report:

Parliament. Dublin: Stationery Office.

Australian Constitution [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 30 October 2003]

Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland [Online]. Available at:

Butler, D. (1980) Report of the Commission on the Representation of the People Acts. Isle of

Man: Tynwald.

Chalmers, J. (2002) Australian Capital Territory Election of 20 October 2001. Australian Journal

of Political Science 37(1) 2002, p 165-168.

Coakley, J. and Gallagher, M. eds. (1999) Politics in the Republic of Ireland. London:


Draft Local Governance (Scotland) Bill: Consultation. (2003) Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Available at:

Electoral Reform Society [Online]. Avaliable at: http://www.electoral-

Ellis, T. (1998) Elections to the Dail Eireann: Reflections on the Report on the Irish Constitution.

Representation 34(1) 1998, p 70-75.

Farrell, D. (2001) Electoral Systems: A Comparative Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Farrell, D. and McAllister, I. (2003a) The Place of Preferential Voting: Electoral System Design

and Voting. [Forthcoming].

Farrell, D. and McAllister, I. (2003b) Electoral Systems. In: McAllister, I., Dowrick, S. and

Hassan, R. eds The Cambridge Handbook of Social Sciences in Australia. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Farrell, D. and McAllister, I. (2003c) The 1983 Change in Surplus Vote Transfer Procedures for

Australian Senate and its Consequences for STV. Australian Journal of Political Science


Farrell, D., MacKerras, M. and McAllister, I. (1996) Designing Electoral Institutions: STV

Systems and their Consequences. Political Studies 44 1996, p 24-43.

Fenech, D. (2003) The Maltese EU Referendum and General Election. West European Politics

26(3) 2003, p 164.

Gallagher, M. (1996) Electoral systems. In: Constitution Review Group. Report of the

Constitution Review Group. Dublin: Irish Stationery Office.

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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze internazionali e istituzioni europee
Università: Milano - Unimi
A.A.: 2011-2012

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Atreyu di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Politica comparata e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Milano - Unimi o del prof Giuliani Marco.

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