DHondt System

DHondt System in Europe

Description of DHondt system

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes dhondt system in the following terms: [1] Invented by a Belgian in the 19th century, the d’Hondt formula is widely used in Europe, including by the European Parliament, to distribute posts between different groups. Suppose, for example, that three parties hold respectively 120, 90 and 36 seats in an elected assembly and that they have the right to appoint six cabinet ministers between them. Under the d’Hondt system the number of seats held by each party would be divided first by two, then by three, then by four, and so on, and the resulting figures would be ranked in descending numerical order, with the cabinet positions going to the top six numbers. Thus:

Party

A

B

C

Number of members

120(1)

90(2)

36(6)

Divided by 2

60(3)

45(4)

18

Divided by 3

40(5)

30(7=)

12

Divided by 4

30(7=)

22.5

9

In the above example Party C would not qualify to nominate a cabinet minister if only five positions were available; if eight positions were available, Parties A and B would each have the right to one extra nomination. The system, which is particularly adapted to coalition rule, was first used in the UK in the troubled Northern Ireland assembly before its dissolution in 2000.

Resources

Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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