List Proportional Representation (List PR)


A voting system in which multiple MLAs are elected in large electoral districts: either several regional districts or the province as a whole, depending on the design of the system. The proportion of total votes received by each political party determines the share of seats it receives in the Legislative Assembly.

There are three different types of List PR systems described on this site. They can be distinguished by the level of choice voters have:

  • Closed List PR: Voters choose their preferred party
  • Open List PR: Voters choose their preferred candidates
  • Open List PR with Party Option: Voters choose their preferred candidates or simply choose the list proposed by the party

Each party prepares a list of candidates prior to the election. Lists may be “closed” or “open.” For closed lists, voters endorse a party and its candidates as listed in the order put forward by that party. For open lists, voters may choose the candidates they prefer from amongst the candidates put forward by a party, or there may also be an option to endorse the party’s list as presented. Using either form of List PR, the share of seats each party receives matches its share of the popular vote.

Voting & Results


  • Voters elect multiple MLAs in each electoral district
  • A single ballot lists the parties and each of their candidates
  • Voters mark an ‘X’ beside the candidate or party of their choice
  • Each party receives a percentage of the seats in the Legislative Assembly equal to the percentage of the vote the party or its candidates collectively received in the region or province
  • The party’s seats are filled by the candidates for that party in the order of the number of votes the candidates received (in an open list) or in the order they appeared on the party’s list (in a closed list)
  • Election law would establish a formula to determine the number of seats each party is entitled to when the popular vote results (expressed as a percentage) would give a party a fraction of a seat
  • A minimum percentage of the popular vote (for example 2% or 5%) may be established below which a party would not be eligible to receive any seats
 
 

Tendencies


  • Highly proportional results (party’s share of popular vote closely matches its share of seats in the Legislative Assembly) when a large number of MLAs are elected in each electoral district
  • Less proportional results when the number of MLAs elected in each electoral district is low
  • Minority or coalition governments are common
  • Closed List PR elects candidates from larger and smaller political parties and only rarely independent candidates
  • Open List PR elects candidates from larger and smaller political parties and may elect independent candidates

Perceived Strengths


  • Highly proportional if a large number of MLAs are elected in an electoral district (high district magnitude)
  • Increased voter choice on the ballot in Open List because voters can choose between candidates of the same party
  • Multiple political parties in the Legislative Assembly, resulting in a greater number of viewpoints represented
  • Most votes count toward electing an MLA (few “wasted votes”)
  • In a Closed List election, political parties can determine their mix of candidates, which may result in greater diversity

Perceived Weaknesses


  • Reduced connection between communities and MLAs because of large, even provincewide, electoral districts
  • May result in many parties being represented in the Legislative Assembly, making government accountability less clear
  • In an Open List election, there may be a large number of candidates on a single ballot, making choices more difficult unless there is also an option to endorse the party’s list as presented
  • Can be difficult to understand how votes are turned into seats
  • Potential delays in forming government after an election if negotiations between parties are required