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A Case for Proportional Representation in India

  • Context (TH): The distribution of vote share in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections in 2024 raised the debate on the need for proportional representation in India’s electoral system.

Proportional Representation (PR) System

  • PR aims to ensure that a party’s share of legislative seats closely matches its share of the popular vote.
  • Three types: Single Transferable Vote (STV), Party-List System, and Mixed Member Proportional system.

Proportional Representation vs First Past the Post System

Feature First Past the Post (FPTP) Proportional Representation (PR)


  • The candidate with the most votes in a constituency wins.
  • Seats are allocated based on the party’s overall vote share (Party List PR).
Representation of Parties
  • Can lead to over/under-representation of parties.
  • Seats closely reflect parties’ vote shares.
Voter Choice
  • Vote for individual candidates.
  • Often, vote for party lists, not individuals.


  • Provides stability by allowing the ruling party/coalition to govern with a majority.
  • May lead to coalition governments and diverse representation.


  • Tends to favour two-party systems.
  • Encourages multi-party systems.
Geographical Representation
  • The strong link between MPs and local constituencies.
  • Weaker local ties, especially in list-based PR.
  • Simple to understand and count.
  • It can be more complex (depending on the specific PR system)
Wasted Votes
  • High (votes for non-winning candidates don’t count).
  • Low (most votes contribute to seat allocation).
  • UK, US, India, Canada.
  • Brazil, Argentina, South Africa.
  • No minimum vote threshold.
  • Often has a minimum vote % for representation (e.g., 3-5% vote share).
Minority Representation
  • Can underrepresent minorities
  • Better represents minority views


  • Tends to marginalise
  • May give a platform to extreme views
  • Required if MP resigns/dies
  • Often filled from party lists

International Practices

  • Germany: Uses Mixed Member PR (MMPR), combining FPTP and proportional allocation.
  • New Zealand: The House of Representatives has 120 seats, 60% of which are FPTP and 40% proportional.
  • South Africa: Party-list proportional representation system.
  • Netherlands: Seats in parliament are directly proportional to vote share.
  • Belgium: Proportional representation ensures parties are represented according to their vote share.
  • The Law Commission’s 170th report recommended introducing the MMPR system on an experimental basis by filling 25% of seats through a PR system and increasing Lok Sabha’s strength.
  • It is also recommended that PR be implemented at the state/UT level to respect the federal structure.
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