Proportional Representation in Practice

Proportional representation has its roots in the mid-1800s, and its use spread during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the US, STV saw fairly widespread use for municipal elections in the first half of the 20th century, but nearly disappeared until the last decade or so, when it has experienced the beginnings of a revival. Worldwide, PR has become widespread, with party-list PR seeing widespread use, and STV used in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Ireland.

In this section, we survey the history of PR in actual use, and the evolution of methods of STV.

Explanations of how PR, and STV in particular, tend to be more confusing than enlightening. PR in a Nutshell uses a simple example election to explain clearly and simply how party-list PR and STV work, and how they compare to plurality elections.


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