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Apportionment: Apportionment in Europe (and Other Democracies)

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3. Apportionment in Europe (and Other Democracies)

Although European parliaments (and other democracies) evolved in a very different way from the legislative branch of the US government, ironically, Europeans also needed to solve apportionment problems as a consequence of the way elections for parliament were held. In Europe (and elsewhere), many countries are divided into multiseat regions where parties competed for seats in the national parliament by running as members of particular parties in these multimember districts. The number of candidates to be elected can be represented by the integer h, which can again be thought of as the size of the parliament. Each party (analogous to the si above) gets a certain percentage of the vote (the analog of the Pi). The goal (in light of obtaining proportional representation ) again is that one wants to assign non-negative integer numbers of seats to the parties that sum to h. There is a practical detail here that plays a role, analogous to the practical detail in the United States House of Representatives problem of needing to give each state one seat. This detail is the fact that prevailing wisdom is that one does not want to give a seat to a party that gets too small a portion of the total vote. Thus, many countries have a cut-off, and if a party does not get more than this cut off value, say 5 percent of the vote, they can not be given a seat. Many of the methods that were proposed to solve the CAP were independently discovered in attempts to solve apportionment problems in Europe. However, some of the methods developed in the United States, which automatically give each state one seat, were not investigated in Europe because in that context, giving each claimant one seat did not seem to match what was desired for a good apportionment system. (These methods are Dean, Adams, and Huntington-Hill. However, easy modifications of these systems that do not give each party one seat automatically might be of interest in the European context.)

Next month we'll examine the details of different apportionment schemes and fairness issues associated with apportionment.

  1. Introduction
  2. The History of Apportionment in America
  3. Apportionment in Europe (and Other Democracies)
  4. References