South Africa’s municipal electoral system

It appears that South Africa used a mixed-member system in its recent municipal elections, based on an example of how the system works.

Probably MMP, but with seats won by independents (i.e. candidates without an affiliated party list) removed from the calculations of how many compensatory seats from the list each party obtains.

4 thoughts on “South Africa’s municipal electoral system

  1. I think a similar system would be great for the District of Columbia. Presently, there are eight members elected from wards, four at-large members and one chairperson also elected at large but separate from the others. All 13 members serve four year terms but they are staggered. This South African system would be a great improvement, considering that elections are partisan, and the Democrats have a stranglehold on the Council (11 of 13 seats, the others independents).

  2. Doesn’t DC also use a form of limited vote for the four at-large? – ie, two per election and must be from different parties?

    One could say this bears the same relationship to Afghan or Japanse-style SNTV as most US States’ primaries do to French runoffs – ie, “one per party” instead of the “top two overall” simpliciter.

  3. As I understand it (and I don’t live in D.C. so I can’t say for certain), the at-large seats (except the Chair) are elected on different staggers, like the different classes of US senators. As for the rule about parties, of the Chair and the four at-large members only three can come from the majority party.

  4. Yes, it is MMP, and it seems to be a rather workable model, as described here, with 50/50 ward and list. A rather unique provision: all votes cast for a party on the PR ballot and for that party’s candidates on ward ballots are added together, and then the usual MMP calculation is carried out, with closed lists.

    This document still refers to the “floor-crossing period” but floor crossing in South Africa was abolished in January 2009.

    The results of this year’s elections have just been declared:

    Does MMP help women? Here, it does:
    “There were 5975 male councillors elected representing 63% and 3498 female councillors elected giving a percentage of 37. Of the total male councillors elected, 2712 came from proportional lists, 3214 from wards and a further 49 were independents contesting wards. On the other hand, of the total female councillors elected, 2 294 we elected from proportional representation lists, 1202 from wards and a further two were independents who contested wards.”

    I see no thresholds. Of the 325 political parties which contested the elections, 167 managed to secure a seat in a council. Of the 213 councils, 70 have no majority winning party.

    The largest city, Johannesburg, has a council of 270 members: 91 ANC (87 ward, 4 list), 71 Democratic Alliance (43 ward, 28 list), 44 from the new Action SA, 29 Economic Freedom Fighters, 8 Patriotic Alliance (2 ward, 6 list), 7 Inkatha Freedom Party (2 ward, 5 list), 4 Vryheidsfront Plus, 3 African Christian Democratic Party, 3 Al Jama-Ah (1 ward, 2 list), 2 African Independent Congress, 1 Congress of the People, 1 Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, 1 United Democratic Movement, 1 United Independent Movement, 1 African People’s Convention, 1 African Heart Congress, 1 GOOD. Interesting coalition negotiations.

    They have an interesting indirect election to District Councils: 40% of representatives are elected by all voters in the area on a PR ballot and drawn from party lists, and the remaining 60% are drawn from representatives of local councils (elected by council). This 60% is split between the local councils based on the percentage of voters they have living in their council area. The local council representatives will be elected through a list based election in the council and should reflect the number of seats different parties have. Therefore, if the UDM has one third of the seats in the local council they will probably get one third of that council’s representatives to the district council.

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