Government and Politics

Cymraeg

How are Regional Assembly Members elected to the National Assembly?

This article explains how the Additional Member System works in the National Assembly for Wales elections and addresses the question of whether the electoral system in Wales will change as a result of parliamentary constituency changes.


The Assembly has 60 elected members and each voter has two votes. The first vote is used to elect a local or constituency Assembly Member in the same way as MPs are elected to the House of Commons using the First Past the Post system (FPTP). Forty Assembly Members are elected on this basis, one from each constituency in Wales.


The second vote is used to elect 20 additional members, on a regional basis, to ensure that the overall number of seats for each political party reflects the share of the vote they receive.


The Additional Member System (AMS) is a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system. It uses two elements one of which is a Proportional Representation (PR) system, the other is FPTP. The PR element compensates for any disproportionality arising under the FPTP system. Mixed Member Proportional systems are used in nine nation states: Albania, Bolivia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lesotho, Mexico, New Zealand and Venezuela.


For the PR element, there are five electoral regions, and each region returns four members to the Assembly.


Each electoral region covers between seven to nine constituencies. There are four regional Assembly Members elected to each of the five regions.


These five electoral regions are:

  • North Wales;

  • Mid and West Wales;

  • South Wales East;

  • South Wales West;

  • South Wales Central.


The regional lists in Wales are closed lists which means that voters vote for a political party. Ballot papers show a list of the names of the candidates nominated by each political party and if a party wins regional seats the candidates at the top of the list will be elected. Single independent candidates may also stand on the list.


A maximum of twelve persons and a minimum of one may be included on a regional party list.


In Assembly elections, the d'Hondt formula, named after the Belgian mathematician and psephologist who invented it, is used for deciding which parties win regional list seats. It is commonly used for allocating seats in countries with PR systems using party lists, for example Belgium.


For the National Assembly for Wales, the four additional Members from each of the five regions are elected by the following method:

  • the number of votes cast for each party on the electors' second ballot paper per electoral region is counted;

  • this total is divided by the number of constituency seats won by that party under FPTP plus one.
     

    The formula can be expressed as: A/(B+1) where:


    A = the total number of regional votes cast for that party across all the constituencies in that electoral region;


    B = the total number of constituency seats won by that party in that electoral region.
     

  • The party with the highest number of votes after this calculation gains the first additional member.

  • The calculation is repeated for the second to fourth additional members, in each case dividing the party's regional vote by the number of constituency seats plus one (+1), and any additional member seats allocated in previous rounds.


Table 1: Major Referendums in the UK

This example covers four parties in a region with eight constituencies.


  Party A Party B Party C Party D
Total number of party votes cast 50,000 62,000 48,000 36,000
FPTP seats won 3 3 2 0
FPTP + 1 4 4 3 1

The 1st seat:

The total number of votes for each party is divided by their 'division total' (the number of FPTP seats won plus one).


Party A Party B Party C Party D
50,000 ÷ 4 = 12,500 62,000 ÷ 4 = 15,500 48,000 ÷ 3 = 16,000 36,000 ÷ 1 = 36,000

Party D with a total of 36,000 would win the first additional seat.


The 2nd seat:

Party A Party B Party C Party D
50,000 ÷ 4 = 12,500 62,000 ÷ 4 = 15,500 48,000 ÷ 3 = 16,000 36,000 ÷ 2 = 18,000

Party D with a total of 18,000 would win the second additional seat.


The 3rd seat:

Party A Party B Party C Party D
50,000 ÷ 4 = 12,500 62,000 ÷ 4 = 15,500 48,000 ÷ 3 = 16,000 36,000 ÷ 3 = 12,000

Party C with a total of 16,000 votes would win the third additional seat.


The 4th seat:

Party A Party B Party C Party D
50,000 ÷ 4 = 12,500 62,000 ÷ 4 = 15,500 48,000 ÷ 4 = 12,000 36,000 ÷ 3 = 12,000


Party B
with a total of 15,500 would win the fourth additional seat.


The total number of seats for each party for the region:

  Party A Party B Party C Party D
FPTP 3 3 2 0
Additional Member 0 1 1 2
Total AMs 3 4 3 2


The Future:


The number of parliamentary constituencies in Wales is likely to be reduced by a quarter - from 40 to 30 - by the next UK General Election, to be held on 5 May 2015.

 

The proposed reduction in the number of MPs in Wales has led to a debate on whether the number of Assembly constituencies should also change.

 

This in turn has led some to question whether changes are required to the Assembly's current electoral system.

 

During Welsh questions in the House of Commons on 11 May 2011, Jonathan Edwards MP asked the then Secretary of State for Wales, the Rt. Hon Cheryl Gillan MP:

 

Given the Labour party's opposition to decoupling Westminster and National Assembly constituency boundaries, would it not make sense to base the make-up of the fifth National Assembly on 30 regional and 30 constituency Assembly Members?

 

On 21 May 2012, the Secretary of State for Wales, the Rt. Hon Cheryl Gillan MP (the Secretary of State), published a Green Paper consultation on future electoral arrangements for the Assembly.

 

The Green Paper:


... sets out the Government's options and proposals for changes to the make-up of the Assembly, including the number of Assembly constituencies, the length of Assembly terms, whether candidates can stand at the same election in an Assembly constituency and a region and whether Assembly Members should be able to sit simultaneously in the Westminster Parliament.

 

The Green Paper includes the following 6 questions, with the consultation due to close on 13 August 2012:

  • Do you prefer Option 1: 40 Assembly constituencies, each containing a broadly equal number of electors and constituency boundaries periodically reviewed; or Option 2: reinstate the link between Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies by changing to an Assembly of 30 constituencies, with an equal number of constituency and regional members (30:30)?

  • Under the 30 constituency option, do you agree the Government's proposal that the number of Assembly regional seats could be increased or decreased to take account of any change in the number of Assembly constituencies?

  • How should Assembly electoral regions be structured under Option 1: 40 Assembly constituencies; and Option 2: 30 Assembly constituencies?

  • Do you think that elections to the National Assembly for Wales should be held every four or every five years? Why do you favour four or five year terms?

  • Do you agree that candidates should be able to stand in a constituency and a region in the same Assembly election?

  • Do you think that a Member of the National Assembly for Wales should not also be able to sit in the Westminster Parliament?

A paper summarising the responses to the consultation will be published within three months of the consultation's closing date on the Wales Office's website.

 

Activity

How to calculate the Additional Member System

  Party A Party B Party C Party D
Total party votes cast 79,564 58,080 34,944 30,911
FPTP seats won 6 1 0 1
Additional Member Seat 1
(Total number of votes ÷ (FPTP seats won +1)
       
Additional Member Seat 2        
Additional Member Seat 3        
Additional Member Seat 4        
Additional Regional Members        
Total AMs for the region        

 

 

Answers

 

  Party A Party B Party C Party D
Total party votes cast 79,564 58,080 34,944 30,911
FPTP seats won 6 1 0 1
Additional Member Seat 1
(Total number of votes ÷ (FPTP seats won +1)
79,564 ÷ 7 = 11,366 58,080 ÷ 2 = 29,040 34,944 ÷ 1 34,944 ELECTED 30,911 ÷ 2 = 15,455
Additional Member Seat 2 79,564 ÷ 7 = 11,366 58,080 ÷ 2 = 29,040 ELECTED 34,944 ÷ 2 = 17,472 30,911 ÷ 2 = 15,455
Additional Member Seat 3 79,564 ÷ 7 = 11,366 58,080 ÷ 3 = 19,360 ELECTED 34,944 ÷ 2 = 17,472 30,911 ÷ 2 = 15,455
Additional Member Seat 4 79,564 ÷ 7 = 11,366 58,080 ÷ 4 = 14,250 34,944 ÷ 2 = 17,472 ELECTED 30,911 ÷ 2 = 15,455
Additional Regional Members 0 2 2 0
Total AMs for the region 6 3 2 1