It is relatively common to elect a legislature through proportional representation. A party or a coalition of parties then forms a government.

Why there is no modern example of governments being directly voted proportionally? For example by assigning a proportion of ministries to each party?

Can the multiple consuls jointly running Rome or the maritime republics be cosidered a similar partition of power?

  • 4
    I know at least one: Switzerland. You might want to reformulate your question.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 20:48
  • 3
    It's also true in Northern Ireland: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_Executive Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 22:15
  • I don't think Switzerland is a good example as it is just happens to be a coalition government (so, there is nothing in the laws requiring this distribution); Northern Ireland fits better but it is not a sovereign government. And for the reference to the Roman consules, they give (some examples explaining why it is not a good idea to divide the power with people with different agendas)[en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arausio]. You can get some info from earlier POTUS and VPOTUS (who could be from different parties).
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 23:33
  • @SJuan76: sorry to nitpick, but the question didn't specify national governments. Also, depending on your definition of sovereign, it could be argued that no government of an EU member state is fully sovereign (kind of a hot topic in the UK right now...) :-) Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 10:56
  • Sounds counterfactual. Almost all coalition governments assign a proportion of ministries to each party in the coalition, and you wouldn't want a party that was soundly rejected by voters to run a ministry. You also see something close, for example, in the ethnic diversity requirements of governments in Iraq and Lebanon. There is also federalism. Many electoral commissions are likewise required to have politically diverse membership.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 1:23

1 Answer 1


I think your question might get an answer here (Why can't we directly elect ministers), but there are some practical problems related to proportional distribution of government:

1. Small number of members - a government is composed of a relatively small number of members and it is harder to obtain proportionality

2. Not quite equals - there can be great differences between government roles, both at public perception and actual budget. Some will consider that leading country's Ministry of Defense is more important than leading Ministry of Culture

Also, the Government is the executive power and one should expect more "technicality" there (each member deals with a clear part of the State problems which, in theory, should require some knowledge/experience), as opposed to the Parliament which can be composed of "generalists", since they are approving most of the laws. So, a more "the man for the job" approach sounds more reasonable.

One possible example to illustrate this idea: it's reasonable to elect those who decide that a road should connect two cities, but not those who actually do the project management, coordinate the workers and decide materials to be used.

  • These are both decent reasons, but do you have any evidence that these reasons are actually why countries don't have proportionally-allocated executives? Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 23:27

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