Bolivia constituent assembly election

UPDATE (3 July): Good analysis of the Bolivian result at Boli-Nica.

Mexico is not the only country having an election today. See Miguel’s notes about the referendum and constituent assembly election [link removed] in Bolivia. Also our previous exchanges about the funky two-vote, two-tier parallel closed-list limited-seats/[almost] “every party gets a seat”* electoral system being used today.

* I said it was funky. Just to tie today’s elections together, Bolivia’s lower tier rule is the same as the Mexican Senate’s lower tier (also used in Bolivia’s own senate). However, the upper tier is just weird: departmental-level allocation of two seats to the leading list, and one each for the remaining parties till the district’s seats are exhausted. Unless that gets down into parties with less than 5%… I told you it was funky! (And please don’t call it either “mixed-member” or “PR”! Labels matter.)

UPDATE (in response to Miguel): I changed the “limited nominations” in my original (whimsical) name for this electoral system to “limited seat” for accuracy (see comments below for more) and also becuase it has a nice parallel (so to speak) with the concept of a “limited vote” system (defined as a nominal-vote system wherein voters get to vote for more than one, but less than M candidates, where M is the number of seats in the district and the top M vote-winners are elected). The Bolivian rules that this discussion refers to say that the plurality party wins more than one seat (and likely more than proportional seats), but less than M seats. Hence “limited seats,” which I would consider a variant of list plurality, just as I would consider the limited vote a variant of nominal plurality. (The system in question would also be “limited nominations” if the party could place on its list only as many candidates as it could win, were it to get the plurality of votes, which apparently is not the case here.)

0 thoughts on “Bolivia constituent assembly election

  1. I agree that labels matter, but I do think that this systems is some *variety* of proportional representation, since it sort of (and I mean “sort of” in a loose sense) pretend to give roughly proportionate results. It’s certainly not a majoritarian system, or a plurality system. Though it does suggest a hybrid between plurality & proportionality in a bizare (or “funky”) way.

    Also, this is the first election where different slates of party lists are running in each of the departments (i.e. not all parties are running in all departments, the number of party lists running in each department varies).

  2. I’m not willing to call this PR, even if the results look that way (which I would think they would not, but we’ll see).

    I wrote “limited nominations” because I was thinking that if a party could win at most two seats in a district, that it would have only that number of candidates nominated (logically). But then I saw your discussion that parties can actually nominate more candidates than the number they could elect, which is odd (though not unheard of) for a closed list system. So, my term does not work. I will change it.

    But it’s not PR if the two leading parties will win 2, and 1 seat, respectively, regardless of their votes shares. And the second tier does not make it PR if it is parallel to this semi-majoritarian lower tier. And the upper tier is not PR if parties win one seat each (after the first one), again without regard to vote totals (provided >5%).

    “Funky” is the best short label I can think of!

  3. On second thought, you’re clearly right. It’s a weird version of a listed-plurality system, which is different from the country’s MMP (a verison of list-PR) system used in parliamentary/presidential elections.

  4. The “every-party-gets-a-seat” feature makes sense for a constituent assembly, and reminds me of the only example (except maybe Malta) of “topped-up STV:” the Northern Ireland Forum election of 1996. Each of the 18 national constituencies elected five representatives by STV. In addition, each of the ten parties with the most votes across Northern Ireland elected another two representatives from a province-wide list. The total number of Forum members was thus 110.

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