Runner-Up Proportional Voting



First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) is an electoral system where a single vote is cast by each voter to elect a single person in each electoral district. It is a very simple system but prone to misrepresentation, a problem solved through Proportional-Representation (PR). PR attempts to achieve a percentage of seats in government equal to the popular vote, usually using a system decidedly detached from direct representation and more complex than FPTP. Runner-Up Proportional Representation (RUPR) combines the advantages of FPTP while achieving the goals of PR.

RUPR starts with voting no different than with FPTP — each voter simply chooses a single person to represent them. Unlike other voting systems, there are no multiple choices, ranking or party choices. The person who has the most votes is then elected to government. Where RUPR differs from FPTP, is that only a percentage of seats are available for direct representation — the rest are apportioned from the runner-up candidates. Based on the popular vote, each party is allotted a minimum number of seats which are then filled by the runner-up candidates based on the total votes they achieved. The ratio should ensure than the number of runner-up seats is greater than one-third of the total. If the party should elect more representatives than their minimum, then they “steal” seats from the most popular party that is not them.

To demonstrate how RUPR works, let’s create a simplified model of Canada consisting of only four provinces, BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. There are 49 seats in the government with 9 from BC, 7 from Alberta, 20 from Ontario and 13 from Quebec.

BC is quite evenly split between the three major parties and is the only province to show a strong Green Party candidate. The nine seats are divided into five direct seats and four runner-up seats. Two Conservatives, one Liberal, one NDP and one Green member are elected directly, and from the runner-ups, two Liberals from A and E, one Conservative from B and one NDP from A.

A Con* 38%, NDP 26%, Liberal 32%, Green 4%

B Con 40%, NDP 14%, Liberal* 46%, Green 0%

C Con 36%, NDP* 37%, Liberal 20%, Green 7%

D Con 20%, NDP 9%, Liberal 17%, Green* 54%

E Con* 44%, NDP 10%, Liberal 41%, Green 5%

The distribution of the Popular Vote (not necessarily an average) was:

Liberal: 36%, three seat minumum

Conservative: 30%, three seat minumum

NDP: 26%, two seat minimum

Green: 8%, one seat minimum

Alberta is traditionally very conservative, with NDP and Liberal rarely getting any seats. The seven seats will be divided into four direct representative seats and three runner-up seats. With the votes shown below, three Conservatives and one Liberal would be elected directly. The one runner-up Liberal would be from district C, one runner-up Conservative from district A and one runner-up NDP from A.

A Con 35%, NDP 25%, Liberal* 37%, Green 3%

B Con* 48%, NDP 11%, Liberal 37%, Green 4%

C Con* 58%, NDP 20%, Liberal 18%, Green 4%

D Con* 75%, NDP 7%, Liberal 14%, Green 4%

The distribution of the Popular Vote (not necessarily an average) was:

Conservative: 55%, 4 seats minimum

Liberal: 28%, 2 seats minimum

NDP: 13%, 1 seat minimum

Green: 4%, no seat minimum

Ontario is a very large province with a traditionally Liberal and NDP centre and more Conservative rural regions. The twenty seats will be split between 13 direct representative seats and 7 runner-up seats. Ontario elects ten direct Liberals and three conservatives. Since the Liberals exceed their minimum seat allotment, they “steal” one seat from the next-highest party, the Conservatives. The runner-up representatives include three Conservatives from districts C, G and H, three NDP from L, M and F and one Green from L.

A Con* 47%, NDP 6%, Liberal 44%. Green 3%

B Con 25%, NDP 12%, Libera*l 60%, Green 3%

C Con 42%, NDP 13%, Liberal* 43%, Green 2%

D Con* 51%, NDP 8%, Liberal 39%, Green 2%

E Con* 45%, NDP 16%, Liberal 36%, Green 2%

F Con 35%, NDP 19%, Liberal* 44%, Green 2%

G Con 44%, NDP 6%, Liberal* 48%, Green 2%

H Con 38%, NDP 9%, Liberal* 51%, Green 2%

I Con 29%, NDP 10%, Liberal* 58%, Green 3%

J Con 20%, NDP 11%, Liberal* 67%, Green 2%

K Con 28%, NDP 10%, Liberal* 60%, Green 2%

L Con 11%, NDP 41%, Liberal* 44%, Green 4%

M Con 12%, NDP 27%, Liberal* 58%, Green 3%

The distribution of the Popular Vote (not necessarily an average) was:

Liberal: 45%, 9 seats minimum (adjusted to 10)

Conservative: 35%, 7 seats minimum (adjusted to 6)

NDP: 17%, 3 seats minimum

Green: 3%, 1 seat minimum

Quebec was dominated by the NDP in the previous election, but saw a shift to the Liberals and Bloc. It is the only province to have Bloc members. The 13 seats are divided into eight direct seats and five runner-up seats. Quebec directly elected two Conservatives, four NDP, one Liberal and one Bloc. With our seat stealing rule, the extra NDP seat is stolen from the Liberals. Our runner-up members include three Liberals from districts E, F and H, and two Bloc from districts A and C.

A Con 7%, NDP 23%, Liberal* 45%, Bloc 24%, Green 1%

B Con* 33%, NDP 29%, Liberal 19%, Bloc 18%, Green 1%

C Con 10%, NDP* 42%, Liberal 20%, Bloc 26%, Green 2%

D Con* 59%, NDP 10%, Liberal 22%, Bloc 7%, Green 2%

E Con 9%, NDP* 38%, Liberal 30%, Bloc 21%, Green 2%

F Con 10%, NDP 24%, Liberal 28%, Bloc* 29%, Green 9%

G Con 5%, NDP* 49%, Liberal 21%, Bloc 22%, Green 3%

H Con 9%, NDP* 45%, Liberal 34%, Bloc 8%, Green 4%

The distribution of the Popular Vote (not necessarily an average) was:

Liberal: 36%, 5 seats minimum (adjusted to 4)

Conservative: 17%, 2 seats minimum

NDP: 25%, 3 seats minimum (adjusted to 4)

Bloc: 20%, 3 seats minimum

Green: 2%, no seat minimum

The Liberals would still form government, but drop from 54.5% of the seats to 38.8% of the seats resulting in a minority government. Conservative seats increase slightly from the current 29.3% to 30.6%; NDP increase quite a bit from 13.0% of the seats to 20.4%; Bloc improves from 3% to 6.1% and the Green shows the largest gain from 0.3% of the seats to 4.1%. If we were to extrapolate the number of seats, the Green party would have 13 to 14 seats!

The federal distribution of the Popular Vote (not necessarily an average) was:

Liberal: 19 seats (38.8%)

Conservative: 15 seats (30.6%)

NDP: 10 seats (20.4%)

Bloc: 3 seats (6.1%)

Green: 2 seats (4.1%)

All of these are very close to the actual popular vote in Canada, despite the fact that only four provinces were used and their sample sizes were quite small.

Liberal: 38.8% by RUPR, 39.5% PV

Conservative: 30.6% RUPR, 31.9% PV

NDP: 20.4% RUPR, 19.7% PV

Bloc: 6.1% RUPR, 4.7% PV

Green: 4.1% RUPR, 3.4% PV

Runner-Up Proportional Representation maintains all the advantages of First-Passed-The-Post, including direct representation (in fact, all members have been chosen by the voters), fast results with no complicated recounts or vote-transfers and a simple ballot where the voter simply chooses one person.

If we re-examine BC, we see that some districts voted for more than one person. District A had three winners, and districts B and E with two winners each. Voters are less likely to feel disenfranchised when the person they voted for still manages to get a victory as a runner-up. While this example used percentages, real vote counts could change which districts actually get the seats, and rewards higher voter turn-outs.

Unlike other proportional systems, all members elected through RUPR have been directly chosen by the voters. There are no party candidates and no second or third place candidates who won instead of the first-place candidate.

RUPR still manages to achieve results very close to the popular vote with no additional complexity to the voter and with little impact on how election night would unfold.