are a mechanism employed in Norwegian
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...
elections to the national legislature, the Storting, and in Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....
elections to national and regional assemblies, to ensure proportional representation both by county and political party. They are more commonly known as "adjustment seats", and can be found in other countries as well as Norway and Sweden where full proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...
at the highest level (e.g. national) is sought.
The arrangement has gone through several changes through the years. Its current form is based on the following principles:
- In order to be eligible for leveling seats, a party must get at least 4% (the exclusion threshold) of the national popular vote. A party may attain enough votes in a given county to elect a representative but may fail to be eligible for leveling seats.
- The number of representatives elected per county is a function of the total population in the county and the area of the county. Hence, the county of Finnmark
or Finnmárku is a county in the extreme northeast of Norway. By land it borders Troms county to the west, Finland to the south and Russia to the east, and by water, the Norwegian Sea to the northwest, and the Barents Sea to the north and northeast.The county was formerly known as Finmarkens...
needs fewer votes to elect a representative (7,409 in 2005) than Oslo (18,167 the same election).
- Of 169 representatives, 150 are elected by popular vote within the county. This means that a party that achieves 40% of the popular vote in a county will send about 40% of the total number of representatives from that county.
- The remaining 19 representatives are allocated one to each county but are elected based on nationwide results for a party, as long as the popular vote at the national level for that party exceeds the exclusion threshold of 4%. The result is that each representative represents an approximately equal number of voters.
In the 2005 elections, the average number of votes on a national level was largely similar across party lines. The largest party, the Norwegian Labour Party
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in Norway. It is the senior partner in the current Norwegian government as part of the Red-Green Coalition, and its leader, Jens Stoltenberg, is the current Prime Minister of Norway....
, required the least number of votes per representative with 14,139; the party that needed the most votes was the Christian Democrats
The Christian Democratic Party , is a Christian Democratic Norwegian political party founded in 1933. The Norwegian name literally translates to Christian People's Party...
, with 16,262. On a county by county basis, however, there were greater disparities: Sogn og Fjordane
is a county in Norway, bordering Møre og Romsdal, Oppland, Buskerud, and Hordaland. The county administration is in the town of Hermansverk in Leikanger municipality while the largest town is Førde....
needed only 3,503 votes to elect one representative from the Liberal Party
The Liberal Party is a centrist liberal political party in Norway. The party is the oldest in the country, and has enacted reforms such as parliamentarism, freedom of religion, universal suffrage and free education. Since 2010, the leader of the party is Trine Skei Grande...
, while Akershus
- Geography :The county is conventionally divided into the traditional districts Follo and Romerike, which fill the vast part of the county, as well as the small exclave west of Oslo that consists of Asker and Bærum...
needed 22,555 to elect one representative from the Socialist Left Party
The Socialist Left Party or SV, is a Norwegian left-wing political party. At one point one of the smallest parties in Parliament, it became the fourth-largest political party in Norway for the first time in the 2001 parliamentary election, and has been so ever since...
The arrangement has gone through several adjustments through the years and is the result of legislative action. Some argue that regional representation should be abolished.
Of the 349 seats in the Swedish Parliament
The Riksdag is the national legislative assembly of Sweden. The riksdag is a unicameral assembly with 349 members , who are elected on a proportional basis to serve fixed terms of four years...
, 310 are fixed seats and 39 are adjustment seats. The 310 fixed seats are distributed among the 29 electoral districts (valkretsar
) according to the largest remainder method
The largest remainder method is one way of allocating seats proportionally for representative assemblies with party list voting systems...
with the Hare quota
The Hare quota is a formula used under some forms of the Single Transferable Vote system and the largest remainder method of party-list proportional representation...
. The distribution of seats between the parties then takes place in four stages.
In the first stage, the fixed seats are distributed within each district according to the modified Sainte-Laguë method
The Sainte-Laguë method is one way of allocating seats approximately proportional to the number of votes of a party to a party list used in many voting systems. It is named after the French mathematician André Sainte-Laguë. The Sainte-Laguë method is quite similar to the D'Hondt method, but uses...
) with the first divisor adjusted to 1.4. Only parties that have received at least 4 percent of the vote nationally or 12 percent of the vote within the district can participate in this distribution of seats.
In the second stage, the 349 seats are distributed through a calculation based on the total amount of votes summed up across the entire country. In this distribution only parties that have received more than 4 percent of the national vote are included. Parties that fall below 4 percent nationally but have been awarded fixed seats in districts where they have had more than 12 percent of the vote are disregarded, and their seats are subtracted from the calculation. If a party has received 2 seats in this fashion, for example, the calculation will be made with 347 seats. Again the modified Sainte-Laguë method is used.
In the third stage, a summary is made of the fixed seats that the parties have achieved, and this is compared to the outcome of the nation-wide distribution above. If a party has received more fixed seats than its share of the total 349-seat distribution, it is disregarded in the distribution of adjustment seats. The parties are then awarded a number of adjustment seats sufficient to cover the gap between their amount of fixed seats and their share in the nation-wide distribution.
Finally, the adjustment seats that each party has received are distributed among the districts. The application of the Sainte-Laguë number gives each party a quotient ('comparison number', jämförelsetal
) in each district, which is its number of votes in the district divided by (2n
+1), where n
is the amount of seats it has been awarded. The district where the party has the highest quotient is awarded an adjustment seat, and a new quotient is then calculated for that district, before the next adjustment seat is distributed. In theory, a district can thus receive more than one adjustment seat. If a party is yet to receive a seat in the district, its quotient simply is the amount of votes it received. When the fixed seats were distributed among the parties in the district, this number was divided by 1.4, which made it harder for a party to achieve its first seat. Now, however, no such division takes place. The method used is thus pure and not modified Sainte-Laguë.
In elections to the county councils
The Counties of Sweden are the first level administrative and political subdivisions of Sweden. Sweden is divided into 21 counties. The counties were established in 1634 on Count Axel Oxenstierna's initiative, superseding the historical provinces of Sweden to introduce a modern administration...
, the same principles are followed, with the following differences: only parties that have received more than 3 percent of the vote in the county are able to participate in the distribution of seats. There is no 12 percent clause or other possibility for parties that fall below this threshold to gain seats. Finally, the amount of adjustment seats is one tenth of the number of seats in the county council. If one tenth is a fractional number (which it always is, since the number of seats in a county council is required to be odd), the fraction is always adjusted upwards, so a county council with 51 seats would have 45 fixed seats and 6 adjustment seats.