In proportional party-list voting systems, each party is entitled to a fraction of the seats in proportion to its vote count. This fraction is always rounded up or down according to some rule of "apportionment". Inevitably, some parties get their proportional share rounded down, while others get their proportional share rounded up. This may be considered unfair.

An alternative to these apportionment rules is to give each party a fractional seat. For example, if there are 435 seats to allocate, and one of the parties wins 10% of the votes, then the first 43 candidates in its list will get a whole seat, and the 44th candidate will get 0.5 seat. This candidate will get 0.5 of the salary of a parliament member, and have 0.5 voting power.

Apparently, this method seems fairer than rounding up or down. What are its downsides?

  • 4
    If they're expected to be a full-time legislator, what are they going to do about getting paid half? Or 10%? Aug 24, 2021 at 15:35
  • Nah, you just have half of the person go to parliament and the other half can go do something else.
    – Bobson
    Aug 24, 2021 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


Power in a Parliament is not proportional to number of seats.

As a simple example, if a party controls 51% of the seats, it has 100% of the power.

So you have finely tuned the number of votes that each party has, but you have not had a proportional effect on the power or influence of that party.

The greater difficulties (Hey Joe, you are on 0.05 of a vote, sorry 'bout that. You still need to do all the work that everybody else does but you only get paid 1/20. Hello Lord Bananahead. Yes your 72 votes does entitle you to 0.0001 votes, and to speak at all debates. You too, Oswald, your 0.005% of the vote does entitle you to spout your hate-filled antisemitism in Parliament.) don't seem to justify the change

  • 1
    To keep things "fair", you'd need to assign fractional debate time too. So if a full member of parliament is allowed to speak for an hour, then Joe gets 3 minutes and Lord Bananahead gets 0.36 of a second.
    – dan04
    Aug 24, 2021 at 20:38
  • And it still doesn't actually create power balance in proportion.
    – James K
    Aug 24, 2021 at 21:44
  • You could not have secret ballots any more. The holders of fractional votes would automatically disclose how they voted. Secret ballots do happen in some parliaments, at least on some issues.
  • You could get/encourage a large number of partial legislators. They each need a chair, a desk, an office. How large does the building need to be this term, how large next term?
  • This also makes the forming of coalitions (which tends to come with proportional systems) more difficult.

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