Given my sudden fascination with small assemblies, I was poking around in election results from St Kitts and Nevis, a Caribbean sovereign state with a population of just over 52,000. With 11 elected members, its assembly certainly counts as small. The 2000 election is really something. Look at the national result:
|St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party||SKNLP||11,762||53.85%||8||8|
|People’s Action Movement||PAM||6,468||29.61%||8||0|
|Concerned Citizens Movement||CCM||1,901||8.70%||3||2|
|Nevis Reformation Party||NRP||1,710||7.83%||3||1|
|Total Valid Votes||21,841||100%||22||11|
The second largest party got no seats, while two parties with less than 10% each won a seat or two. This is a first-past-the-post system. The problem the PAM had was it came in second in all eight seats it contested, i.e., every district on the island of St. Christopher (none were close). The advantage the CCM and NRP had is they run only on the island of Nevis, which has three district. Here are the district results.
|Constituency||Registered voters||SKNALP||PAM||CCM||NRP||Valid Votes|
|St Christopher #1||4,519||1,788||1,149||–||–||2,937|
|St Christopher #2||5,652||2,011||1,507||–||–||3,518|
|St Christopher #3||2,596||1,235||377||–||–||1,612|
|St Christopher #4||2,430||1,013||735||–||–||1,748|
|St Christopher #5||2,328||869||769||–||–||1,638|
|St Christopher #6||2,571||1,613||119||–||–||1,732|
|St Christopher #7||2,874||1,441||479||–||–||1,920|
|St Christopher #8||4,325||1,792||1,333||–||–||3,125|
Note that there is some pretty serious malapportionment here, as well. Nevis constituencies have many fewer voters than St. Christopher constituencies. In fact, the three Nevis districts together have only about 1.2 times the population of the most populous St. Christopher district.
So what should we have according to the Seat Product Model? The seat product is 11 (magnitude of 1, times assembly size of 11), so the effective number of seat-winning parties should be 1.49. In this election it was actually 1.75. That’s actually not a terrible miss! But in most elections it has been considerably higher than that–as high as 3.90 in 2015. So just for fun, a quick look at that one:
|St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party||SKNLP||11,897||39.27%||8||3|
|People’s Action Movement||PAM||8,452||27.90%||6||4|
|People’s Labour Party||PLP||2,723||8.99%||2||1|
|Concerned Citizens Movement||CCM||3,951||13.04%||3||2|
|Nevis Reformation Party||NRP||3,276||10.81%||3||1|
|Total Valid Votes||30,299||100%||22||11|
This time, the PAM benefitted greatly! It is in a clear second place in votes, yet won a plurality of seats. Not a majority, however. According to Wikipedia, there were alliances. But even at the alliance level, there was a plurality reversal: “The outgoing coalition (SKNLP and NRP) secured 50.08% of votes but got only 4 seats, the winning coalition (PAM, PLP and CCM) won 7 seats with only 49.92% of votes.” Oh, cool: Another case of pre-electoral alliances! The effective number of alliances was just 1.86.
And at the district level:
|Constituency||Registered Voters||SKNLP||PAM||PLP||CCM||NRP||Valid Votes|
|St. Christopher #1||5,036||1,727||1,731||–||–||–||3,458|
|St. Christopher #2||4,740||1,758||1,660||–||–||–||3,418|
|St. Christopher #3||3,265||1,348||–||1,076||–||–||2,424|
|St. Christopher #4||3,166||1,216||1,252||–||–||–||2,468|
|St. Christopher #5||3,107||884||1,245||–||–||–||2,129|
|St. Christopher #6||2,823||1,969||200||–||–||–||2,169|
|St. Christopher #7||3,191||867||–||1,647||–||–||2,514|
|St. Christopher #8||5,753||2,128||2,364||–||–||–||4,492|
We might not expect regionalism in such a small country, with a small assembly. But the party preferences of the two islands obviously are genuinely different (and the PLP is “regional” in that it contested only two districts on St. Christopher); yet the parties aggregate into alliances for purposes of national politics.
The malapportionment is still noteworthy–look at the small population of Nevis 10. However, one of the other two districts is now the most populous in the country, quite unlike in 2000.
Final point: Its population may be small, but according to the cube root law St Kitts and Nevis should have an assembly more than three times what it actually has: 37. If they were proportional to registered voters, Nevis would be allotted nine of those 37 seats. It currently has 3 of the 11, so 27%, so quite close to its population share, unlike in 2000 when it was overrepresented. Making the seats allocated by island more easily fit population balance in itself would be a good argument for increasing assembly size, but an even better argument would be making anomalous results like the two elections shown here less likely–even if they insist on sticking with FPTP.