Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)


A voting system in which First Past the Post (FPTP) and List PR are both used to allocate seats in the Legislative Assembly and voters have a separate vote under each system. Some seats are filled at the local electoral district level under FPTP, while other seats are filled at the regional or provincial level under List PR. For example, there could be 50 seats that are filled directly by voters in local electoral districts and 30 seats that are filled by voters across the province or in a region that votes for candidates on provincewide or regional party lists.

The overall share of seats each party holds in the Legislative Assembly is determined by the parties’ share of the List PR vote – the List PR seats are allocated from the parties’ lists of candidates specifically to compensate for any disproportional results from the FPTP vote, so that the overall result is proportional.

Voting & Results


  • Voters cast two votes – one vote to elect a single MLA for a local electoral district (FPTP), and one vote for a party to elect MLAs on a regional or provincewide list (List PR).
  • Two-part ballot:
    • Part 1 lists the candidates for the local electoral district (“FPTP seats”).
      • Voters in each local electoral district vote to elect a single MLA
      • Voters mark an ‘X’ beside the candidate of their choice
      • The candidate with the most votes wins the seat in the Legislative Assembly to represent the local electoral district
    • Part 2 lists the parties running in a region or provincewide (“list seats”)
      • Lists may be open (voters vote for a candidate of their choice) or closed (voters vote for a party of their choice) – see “List PR”
      • Voters mark an ‘X’ beside the candidate or political party of their choice (may be the same party as the FPTP candidate they support or a different party)
      • The list seats are used to “top up” the number of FPTP seats each party won to bring their share of the total seats in the Legislative Assembly as close as possible to their share of the vote on Part 2 of the ballot
      • For example, a party that received 20% of the provincewide vote for the list seats but only won 15% of the FPTP seats would receive additional list seats so it holds 20% of the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly
      • The list seats are filled either by the candidates for that party in the order of the list established by the political party at the start of the election (closed list) or by the candidates for that party in the order of the number of votes the candidates received (open list)
      • Election law will 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 (e.g. 2% or 5%) may be established below which a political party would not be eligible to receive any seats

Tendencies


  • Proportional results as long as there are enough List PR seats to compensate for any disproportional results in the FPTP vote
  • Fewer, larger electoral districts than under FPTP or a significant increase in the total number of MLAs to support the additional list seats
  • Elects candidates from larger political parties and some smaller parties and only rarely independent candidates
  • Minority or coalition governments are common

Perceived Strengths


  • Largely proportional and can be highly proportional depending on the mix of electoral district and list seats
  • Identifiable local representation
  • Voter choice (both a local candidate and a party)
  • Relatively simple ballot to mark
  • If party list is closed, political parties determine mix of candidates, which may result in greater diversity

Perceived Weaknesses


  • Creates two “classes” of MLAs – those who represent a local district and those who are elected from a large regional or provincewide list
  • Challenging for voters to hold individual MLAs accountable if they can be included on party list and elected despite not winning an electoral district seat
  • Can be difficult to understand how list votes are turned into seats
  • Potential delays in forming government after an election if negotiations between parties are required
  • If a political party receives more electoral district seats than its provincewide vote share would entitle it to, then depending on the design of the system, either:
    • the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly must increase to address this over-representation, or
    • the other political parties receive fewer list seats than they would otherwise be entitled to