Assistance requested on electoral-system detail

The following is from Mark Wilson, whose request for assistance on some electoral system details I am posting. Sometimes it can be quite hard to track down this level of detail. Often readers of this blog have seen sources that have escaped my, or other scholars’, attention.

Dear Fruits and Votes readers,

My PhD student and I have been looking at several countries that use proportional representation. For our purposes, exact definitions of electoral algorithms, and official historical election results are important. She has mostly found those by looking at various semi-standard websites, and supplemented this by looking at online electoral laws of countries.

There are some missing pieces which are blocking further progress.

* Some published vote totals include “other” which needs to be broken down further for our purposes. Some official results conflict with various normally reliable sources.

* Some countries have separate thresholds for ethnic parties or for alliances of several parties (“blocs”). We think we understand the rules, but finding which parties are officially “ethnic” or which alliances are preregistered is not easy.

* Some of the values of these thresholds (especially ones used historically) are hard to find definitive information on.

Specific questions are listed below. Elections are for lower house unless stated. I would appreciate information from those who know the answers!

Mark C. Wilson
Centre for Mathematical Social Sciences
University of Auckland


Mozambique 2014 – need full results for smaller parties
Serbia 2012 – did Albanian Coalition win a seat?


Bosnia 2010
Paraguay Senate 2013
Slovakia and South Africa, last two elections each
Serbia 2012 (suspect there is zero threshold for ethnic minority parties, not 0.4% as often stated)


Bosnia 2010
Fiji 2006 (how are independents treated?)
Mozambique 2014, 2009
Moldova 2014
Netherlands 2010
Paraguay Senate 2013
Slovakia 2012, 2010
South Africa 2014, 2009

11 thoughts on “Assistance requested on electoral-system detail

  1. With regards to the Netherlands, the general law is explained here: (Website of Dutch parliament).

    Such alliances are called ‘lijstencombinatie,’ i.e. list combination. They need to be announced to the Central Voting Office (Centraal Stembureau) on the day that parties announce their candidacy. Parties cannot join two or more ‘lijstencombinaties’, have to participate in all ‘kieskringen’ (electoral districts), the ‘lijstencombinatie’ applies to the party lists in all ‘kieskringen,’ and each party needs to be registered at the Centraal Stembureau. See: (Website of Central Voting Office)

    “Een lijstencombinatie wordt bij de bepaling van het aantal toe te wijzen zetels behandeld als één lijst (de stemcijfers van de verbonden lijsten worden dus bij elkaar opgeteld), onder de voorwaarde dat aan ten minste twee van de verbonden lijsten ook zelfstandig een zetel zou zijn toegewezen. Verbonden lijsten die zelfstandig geen zetel zouden hebben verworven, worden voor de zetelverdeling uitgesloten geacht van de lijstencombinatie.”

    A ‘lijstencombinatie’ is treated as one list during the assignment of votes (the number of votes of the allied lists are added together), if at least two of the allied lists would have gained a seat independently. Allied lists which would not independently have gained a seat, will be regarded as excluded of the ‘lijstencombinatie.’ In other words, the ‘lijstencombinatie’ only applies if at least to of the allied lists gain a seat, and only for those parties who would have gained a seat regardless of the ‘lijstencombinatie.’

    The laws establishing them: (Website by Dutch government on Dutch laws, literally: “
    A leading national daily states here that in 2010 there were two ‘lijstverbindingen,’ 1.Partij van de Arbeid and GroenLinks (Labour and Green Left), and 2.Christen Unie and Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (Two smaller christian conservative parties).

    I hope this helps! (And that Jochanan is not going to kill me for making mistakes…)

  2. To start off, Fiji 2006 did not use proportional representation. It used AV/preferential voting in a similar manner to Australia, but with group voting tickets. As you can see from this sample ballot paper (, you could vote above or below the line. If you voted below the line, you would have to number every box, wheras if you voted above the line for a party (a party did not have to run candidates in a constituency to get an above-the-line box) your vote would follow that party’s preference ticket ( Independents were permitted to file preference tickets in seats they contested, it seems.

  3. South Africa has no threshold whatsoever, as can be clearly seen from the fact that there are regularly parties winning seats with even less than a Hare quota (1/400).

  4. Threshold in the last two Slovak elections was 5 % for one running party, 7 % for alliances consisting of two or three subjects, and 10 % for alliances of four or more subjects. Shares of many relevant parties are not far from 5 % threshold, and that is the reason they are not joining alliances, but rather few members of one subject is after agreement joining the list of other party (what is allowed by law and still keeps the threshold at 5 %). So, there were no alliances running in the last two Slovak elections.

    • if a few different (ideologically compatible) parties each have 4-5%, wouldn’t it be a good idea for them to create an alliance that should, in principle, get 7% rather easily?

      • Well, this can work in theoretical perspective. The thing is that even if those parties could be considered as ideologically compatible, they are competing against each other (since they are trying to attract the very same voter) what, together with fact that some of the parties are separated party fractions, makes the cooperation due to hostility (rising from the campaign) and personal animosity hard.

  5. The Bosnian threshold is 3% in every district dor the first tier allocationa and 3% overall for the second tier allocation, see electoral law art. 9.5 (3) and 9.6 a) – also applicable for the FBiH HoR and the RS National Assembly and cantonal an municipal assemblies (art. 10.1 (2), 11.1 (1) and 13.5 (1))

    All results at

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