The following was posted as a comment by Chris Curtis. But it really deserves to be a primary planting of its own. Please note that, except for the final, bracketed paragraph, the remainder of this post is by Chris, not me.
The state of Victoria in Australia has just conducted its first election under PR for the Legislative Council. (All bicameral legislatures in Australia now have one house elected by PR.) It is legally speaking STV, but de facto it is more like a closed list system.
There are eight five-member regions, with the quota for election being 16.66 per cent. Parties register group how to vote cards, which allocate preferences through all the candidates. Voters have a choice in voting. They can mark the number 1 above the line if they wish to follow that partyâ€™s HTV card or they can number the squares from 1 onwards below the line next to the individual candidates in any arrangement within or across the parties. In the latter case, they must number at least 1 to 5.
It seems that more than 95 per cent of voters have voted above the line and thus allowed the parties to determine their preferences (thus my comment that it is like a closed list system). The parties negotiate preference deals with each other; e,g., the Australian Labor Party has preferenced the Democratic Labor Party in Western Victoria after its own five candidates, while the DLP has preferenced the ALP No. 4 candidate after its own candidates and the No. 1 Liberal candidate in Western Metropolitan (effectively meaning the DLP preferences will flow to the ALP because the No.1 Liberal – as was expected – got a quota in his own right). The ALP was assured of three seats in Western Metropolitan, so the preferences to the fourth candidate are important and he has won the seat.
It seems that the DLP will win a seat from 2.6 per cent of the vote in Western Victoria by astute preference deals allowing it to gain votes from smaller groups which put it ahead of the next group from which it will gain more preferences and so on. This is a Buffy-like resurrection as the last Victorian DLP MP lost his seat in 1958, the last Queensland DLP MP retired in 1972, the last federal DLP senators lost their seats in 1974, the last New South Wales DLP MP lost his seat in 1976 and the Victorian party disbanded in 1978, though the senator representing overseas Italians in Australia, Nino Randazzo, is a former DLP candidate.
Election day was 25th November, but the complications of voting mean that the count is still going on. Two sites that are still tracking the election are:
http://www.pollbludger.com and http://www.upperhouse.info.
[On the above-the-line voting, is it not the case that in all Australian jurisdictions that permit this, the effect is similar to a closed list within the party? The one way in which it is different–and as Chris relates, it can be significant–is in the possibility of cross-party transfers. In closed-list systems, parties can’t make those “astute preference deals” by which their votes may transfer to candidates nominated on the ‘lists’ of other parties. Welcome aboard, Chris, and thanks for the election update!–MSS]