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D’Hondt Method Ensuring Fair Selection in Elections

You may have heard about proportional list election and the d’Hondt method in connection with elections. However, the operation of the method remains unclear to many, so we decided to tell you more about it.

The D’Hondt method operates by first summing up the votes for each list. Following this, the individuals who stood as candidates within the list are ranked according to their personal vote counts. In other words, the candidate with the highest number of votes is ranked first, the second-highest second, and so forth.

Subsequently, each candidate is assigned a comparison number, which is determined based on the overall vote tally. The candidate at the top of the personal vote count ranking receives the entire sum as their comparison number, the second receives half of the total, the third receives one-third, and so on. This process is applied to both independent candidates and candidates within electoral alliances, ensuring that every candidate has their own comparison number.

How is the comparison number formed?

Does this sound complex? Below is a picture that can be used to better understand the operation of the method.

CandidateList / IndependentPersonal Vote CountList Comparison Number

In this example, there is an election with seven candidates, and three will be chosen. Two of the candidates, A and B, are running as non-committed candidates. Candidates C and D have formed the electoral alliance “Triangles,” and candidates E, F, and G have formed the electoral alliance “Balls.”

The table displays the individual votes for each candidate, from which a list comparison number has been calculated for each candidate using the d’Hondt method. The list comparison figure for an uncommitted candidate is simply their personal number of votes.

In the case of Triangles, candidate C received a larger personal vote, which means they receive the total number of votes for C and D (12+8) in the list comparison figure. D received a smaller number of personal votes in Triangles, so he gets 1/2 of the total number of votes, which equals 10.

In the Balls alliance, E receives the entire pool, 39 votes, while F gets 1/2 of the total, which is 19.5, and G gets 1/3 of the total, which is 13. Consequently, candidates A, C, and E would be elected in the election. If there had been four candidates, the fourth position would have been claimed by candidate F due to a higher list comparison number, even though their personal vote count was lower than candidate B.

How does the Electoral Ring change the Calculation Method?

When an electoral ring is formed in the elections, the calculation method slightly changes regarding the comparison figures.

CandidateList / IndependentElectoral RingPersonal Vote CountList Comparison NumberRing Comparison Number

In this election, in addition to the previous one, the election ring “Yellow” is formed by the still uncommitted candidate A and the election union “Triangles.” To calculate the comparison figure for the parties within the election ring, we first calculate the list comparison number for them. Based on this list comparison number, the votes in the entire electoral ring are divided in the same way as when calculating the list comparison number for individual candidates. The person with the highest list comparison number receives the entire vote pool, the second-highest gets half of the total vote pool, and so on.

In this example, candidate A receives a total comparison figure of 47 (27+12+8), candidate C gets a total comparison figure of 23.5, and candidate D receives a total comparison figure of 15.7. When comparing these total comparison figures to the list comparison figures of the other candidates, it is evident that the three highest comparison figures still belong to candidates A, C, and E.

An Individual Candidate can benefit from an Electoral Ring

In this example election, the electoral ring did not impact the final outcome of the election in terms of the candidates who were elected. However, it’s worth noting that the final comparison numbers for all those within the electoral ring are higher than they would have been without it, indicating that being part of the electoral ring was beneficial for all participants. In the electoral ring, it’s a consistent rule that each electoral list receives at least the same number of seats as it would have received without the electoral ring.

The Overall View

Therefore, there are various other influential factors in the proportional list election method beyond the votes received by individual candidates.

The final outcome for a candidate in the election is also influenced by the number of votes garnered by other candidates within the same electoral union or electoral ring. This influence extends both to the order of candidates within the list or ring and to the accumulation of the common vote pool.

In a list election, such as the student union representative election, the result is typically weighted in a way that aligns the number of seats a list receives with the votes it garners. For this reason, the proportional list election is a widely used and generally proven effective approach for conducting democratic elections. While the method may not be perfect, it remains a common practice worldwide.

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