Electoral Systems around the World

Worldwide Electoral Systems

When it comes to national election systems worldwide, our nation’s winner-take-all plurality method is relatively rare.

Internationally, proportional representation (what we call proportional RCV) is the most common system:Roughly half (90 of 195) of countries use it. An additional 34 countries mix proportionality and winner-take all. Sixty-four use winner-take-all; of those 37, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, use plurality. 

RepresentWomen, a nonprofit organization that tracks electoral systems  through the lens of gender parity in political office, maps the world’s electoral systems in this graphic. 



Electoral Reform is Possible

Electoral systems and structures profoundly impact democratic governance. Reformers in the United States and around the world are striving to improve the way their governments are elected to ensure the public has the ability to shape the laws that govern their lives. 

Most countries regularly reflect on how well their systems are working and consider structural improvements -- and implement change more often than casual observers may realize. 

In recent decades, New Zealand, France, Italy and Japan have adopted major electoral reforms, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland departed -- in an electoral sense --  from their peers in the United Kingdom by adopting their own parliaments and electoral systems. 

For more information, see Electoral System Reform in Advanced Democracies by Matthew Shugart and Justin Reeves.


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