Understand the proportional voting system

WITH the next local government elections set to take place on Wednesday, 3 August it is important for Toti voters to understand how the proportional voting system works in municipal elections.

For local or municipal elections you receive two ballot papers in a metro – one of the ballots is for the candidate standing in your area and the second ballot is for the proportional representation of parties on the council.

In eThekwini, close to 50% of seats are for winning candidates and 50% go to proportional councillors. The proportional vote works as follows: If there are, for example, 100 proportional seats on the council and your party secures 1% of the votes in the election, your party will secure one seat. If your party secures 2%, they secure two seats and so on.

Vote for what you believe on 3 August and allow the Constitution to work for you.

After the elections, parties can form coalitions to control the metro. With a coalition the different parties agree on certain principles from their party’s manifesto to form the coalition and they run the metro under those agreements.

Let’s look at an example of the proportional system.

Take 10 people. All 10 decide to vote, six of them vote for a majority party and four for smaller opposition parties. The larger party now has six votes out of 10, which give them 60% of the seats on the council. The smaller parties have four out of ten, therefore 40%.

If one of the opposition voters now decides not to vote, the majority party will still have six votes, but now it will be out of nine voters. They will secure 66,6% (more than two thirds) of the seats.

Advantages of this voting system

  • You do not have to vote for the largest party to have an effect on the outcome, you have the freedom of association as stipulated in the Constitution.
  • Your vote will never be lost as it will remain part of the percentage calculation of proportional seats.
  • If a coalition is formed after the election, your vote will ensure that your views are reflected in the coalition negotiations.
  • The only time your vote will not count towards a PR seat is if you vote for an independent candidate, as there is no party that will receive the proportional percentage.

Vote for what you believe on 3 August and allow the Constitution to work for you.

By Earl Baillache

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