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ANNEX - CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRACY
Maputo, Mozambique, October 31, 1997

GCA/PC/N.2/10/1997
 

Electoral Systems in African Countries

Although there are many variations, electoral systems fall into three main groups: plurality-majority; proportional representation, and semi-proportional representation. All three types are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 28 countries utilize some form of plurality-majority system, 14 use pure proportional representation, and 6 have systems of semi-proportional representation, as the following table indicates.

a. Plurality-majority systems usually feature single member districts, although they can have multi-member districts. First past the post systems are the most common and simplest version of plurality-majority arrangements. They use single member districts and the winner is the candidate who obtains the most votes. A variation is the block vote, in which the plurality majority system is used with multi-member districts, so that voters can vote for as many candidates as there are seats to be filled. The winners are the candidates with the most votes. In some block vote arrangements, voters choose between individual candidates, whereas in others they vote for parties. The two-round system is another variation, in which a second or run-off election is held to ensure that the winner obtains an absolute majority of votes. In Africa, the vast majority of plurality-majority systems utilize first past the post arrangements, although several francophone countries use two round systems.

b. Proportional representational systems are designed to ensure that the proportion of parliamentary seats won by a party is broadly similar to the percentage of votes it gets. While there are a number of different arrangements which ensure proportionality, those African countries adopting proportional representational systems have to date relied on party lists (see following table). Under this system, voters are presented with party lists at the national or local level, and they vote for the parties. Parties win seats according to their share of the vote, and select candidates on the basis of their position on the lists. Most proportional representational systems have thresholds which must be achieved before seats can be won. In some instances, voters can indicate a preference for a candidate as well as for a party.

c. Semi-proportional representational systems, are modified proportional representation systems which are designed to produce results in between those obtained by plurality-majority systems and those produced by pure proportional representational systems. The most common version of this is the parallel system which uses proportional representational lists and plurality-majority districts. There are a number of variations on the parallel system, of differing degrees of complexity.

In addition to the type of system adopted, issues such as number of parliamentary seats awarded to each district, the drawing of district boundaries, and the formula followed for translating votes into parliamentary seats all have bearing on the electoral process.

Key: FPTP=First Past the Post, Block=Block Vote, PB=Party Block, TRS=Two-Round System, List PR=List Proportional Representation.

Country
Electoral System 1997
Type
Parliamentary Size 1
Angola
List PR
PR
220
Benin
List PR
PR
83
Botswana
FP TP
Plurality
47
Burkina Faso
List PR
PR
107
Burundi
List PR
PR
81
Cameroon
Parallel-FPTP
Semi-PR
180
Cape Verde
List PR
PR
79
Central African Rep
TRS
Majority
85
Chad
TRS
Majority
125
Comoros
TRS
Majority
42
Congo
TRS
Majority
125
Côte d'Ivoire
FPTP-Block
Plurality
175
Dem. Republic of Congo
FPTP
Plurality
210
Djibouti
PB
Plurality
65
Equatorial Guinea
List PR
PR
80
Eritrea
List PR
PR
130
Ethiopia
FPTP
Plurality
547
Gabon
TRS
Majority
120
Gambia
FPTP
Plurality
36
Ghana
FPTP
Plurality
200
Guinea Parallel
FPTP
Semi-PR
114
Guinea-Bissau
List PR
PR
100
Kenya
FPTP
Plurality
188
Lesotho
FPTP
Plurality
65
Liberia
List PR
PR
64
Malawi
FPTP
Plurality
177
Mali
TRS
Majority
147
Mauritania
TRS
Majority
79
Mozambique
List PR
PR
250
Mauritius
Block
Plurality
70
Namibia
List PR
PR
72
Niger
Parallel-FPTP
Semi-PR
83
Nigeria
FPTP
Plurality
593
Rwanda
FPTP
Plurality
70
Sao Tomé & Principe
List PR
PR
55
Senegal
Parallel-PB
Semi-PR
120
Seychelles
Parallel-FPTP
Semi-PR
33
Sierra Leone
List PR
PR
68
Somalia 2
Parallel-FPTP
Semi-PR
123
South Africa
List PR
PR
400
Sudan
FPTP
Plurality
275
Swaziland
FPTP
Plurality
55
Tanzania
FPTP
Plurality
232
Togo
TRS
Majority
81
Uganda
FPTP
Plurality
214
Zambia
FPTP
Plurality
150
Zimbabwe
FPTP
Plurality
120
 
   

Key: FPTP=First Past the Post, Block=Block Vote, PB=Party Block, TRS=Two-Round System, List PR=List Proportional Representation.

Categorizations are based on the electoral laws as of May 1997, or the last competitive election held.

1 Directly elected members.
2 Data based on Somalia's last competitive elections, held in 1969.
Source: International IDEA, Stockholm 1997: The International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design.

 

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