Mixed-Member PR (MMPR)

This voting system is an interesting bridge between single-member, and fully party-centric Proportional Representation.

This approach involves:

  1. Electing individuals in single-member constituencies, and, separately, voting for a preferred party as well.
  2. The single-member elections are typically decided on a FPTP basis (a serious flaw that can be easily addressed with Ranked-Pairs).
  3. Then, taking into account the party-affiliations of these elected members, additional members are selected from party-lists in an attempt to achieve proportionality as a whole according to the party vote.

“… a voting system originally used to elect representatives to the German Bundestag, and which has now been adopted by numerous legislatures around the world.

“[MMPR] is similar to other forms of proportional representation (PR) in that the overall total of party members in the elected body is intended to mirror the overall proportion of votes received; it differs by including a set of members elected by geographic constituency who are deducted from the party totals so as to maintain overall proportionality…

“In Germany, where it is used on the federal level and on most state levels, [MMPR] is known as personalized proportional representation.  In Quebec, where an [MMPR] model was studied in 2007, it is called the compensatory mixed-member voting system (système mixte avec compensation or SMAC).” — Mixed-Member Proportional Representation, Wikipedia

“Recent worldwide electoral trends show a rise in popularity of the mixed member system because of how it combines geographic, district-based representation with proportional representation.

“For decades, West Germany was the only nation to use [MMPR], having adopted it after World War II.  In the 1990’s, however, [MMPR] was adopted for elections in New Zealand, Scotland and Wales, and a modified form of [MMPR] was proposed by the Jenkins Commission to elect the British House of Commons.

“Several major countries in the 1990’s adopted ‘parallel’ mixed member systems that share several features with [MMPR], but are classified as semi-proportional systems.  The allocation of the party list seats is done in proportion to the party vote no matter what the results in the district elections, meaning that the largest party tends to win a disproportionately high share of seats.  Among countries using parallel mixed member systems are Mexico, Russia and the Ukraine.  Italy and Hungary also use mixed member systems that are classified as semi-proportional.” — Elections to the New Zealand House of Representatives

(Note the significant difference between MMPR, and “parallel” Mixed Member systems.”)

“In March 2004 the Law Commission of Canada proposed a system of [MMPR], with only 33% of MPs elected from regional open lists, for the Canadian House of Commons but Parliament’s consideration of the Report in 2004–5 was stopped after the 2006 election.

“A proposal to adopt [MMPR] with closed province-wide lists for elections to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island was defeated in a referendum in 2005.

“In 2007 the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform in Ontario, Canada, also recommended the use of [MMPR] in future elections to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, with a ballot similar to New Zealand’s, and with the closed province-wide lists used in New Zealand but with only 30% compensatory members.  A binding referendum on the proposal, held in conjunction with the provincial election on 10 October 2007, saw it defeated.” — Electoral Reform Initiatives in Canadian Provinces, Library of Parliament, Mixed Member Proportional Representation, Wikipedia

(For Canada under the current distribution order (2013), there are 338 geographic constituencies.  Under the Law-Commission-proposal with this same total number of seats, we would have 226 (geographic) constituecies, and 112 party-list seats.)

According to the Law Commission report cited these forays into PR are not new:

“Various progressive and united farmers’ parties also helped encourage electoral reform in the wake of World War I, culminating in the adoption of proportional representation for municipal elections in all four western provinces.  Manitoba and Alberta also adopted alternative voting systems (notably the single transferable vote for provincial elections in urban ridings) and the alternative vote in rural ridings.

“These systems were in place from the early 1920s until the mid-1950s, when they were replaced by first-past-the-post systems.

“In many instances, proportional representation systems were replaced in order to quell opposition parties that had begun to challenge ruling governments.” — Voting Counts:  Electoral Reform for Canada, p 26–27

The choice does not have to be Condorcet/Ranked-Pairs-or-else-PR, but to use each of them where appropriate.  Ranked-Pairs MMPR — which is Mixed-Member PR with its usual FPTP core replaced with Condorcet/Ranked-Pairs — would be an interesting choice.


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