[EM] Runoff (Was: Show us the ballots, mikeo)

Olli Salmi olli.salmi at uusikaupunki.fi
Wed Jan 1 00:18:20 PST 2003

At 09:28 +0200 24.12.2002, MIKE OSSIPOFF wrote:
>2. Top-2 Runoff (aka Runoff)

There's also the kind of runoff used in Switzerland, where the second round
is not limited to the top two candidates. It's the normal way of electing
exexutives on the municipal and cantonal level. The Swiss have 5, 7 or
9-member executives elected by the people in majority elections. You have
as many votes as there are seats to be filled, and in the first round those
candidates are elected who receive the absolute majority.

There are two ways of calculating the absolute majority. One is to divide
the number of valid votes (not ballot papers) by the number of seats and
round the result up. This number is then divided by two and again rounded
up. Another way is to divide the total number of valid votes by twice the
number of seats and then round the result up. If more than the required
number reach this figure, the candidates with the most votes are declared
elected. I think in Basel there's third way, more than half of the ballots.

In the second round, a simple majority (plurality) is enough. The less
popular candidates seem to withdraw.

Switzerland doesn't have single-member executives, but the same method is
used at least in Zurich to elect the City president (Stadtpräsident), the
chair of the executive body. In this election you are only allowed to vote
for a candidate that you are supporting for the executive on the same
ballot, or, in the second round, for a person who has already been elected.

Last spring there were elections in Zurich when I was in Switzerland. The
city council had just postponed the second round because the material sent
to the electors had mistakes. They weren't prepared for a second round
because they hadn't had one for years, and the instructions weren't clear
enough. It's interesting that usually only one round is needed.

There's usually voluntary proportionality in the executive. In Ticino the
majority once took all the seats, which resulted in an uprising, and Ticino
has used proportional election since. In Luzern an initiative to introduce
proportional elections has recently been filed, but I don't know how it's

The Federal Council, the national executive, is elected for four years by a
joint session of the chambers of the Federal Assembly. They elect the
members one by one with the Exhaustive Ballot. The election is repeated
until a candidate reaches the absolute majority. The bottom candidate
(sometimes several  if they don't reach a prescribed number of votes) is
dropped at every round after the third. This allows to take into acount
party, locality, language, religion and gender and what else needs to be
taken into account. Judges are elected from a list according to what is
basically the same principle.

There's an interesting variation of this in A. Traber's book Vereinsrecht
und Vereinsleitung (Bern, 1969). It's used in voting for several motions,
the example is about sums of money. You vote for a motion, not aye or no.
If no motion reaches the abolute majority, the meeting votes on which of
the two bottom motions is to be excluded. This goes on until one motion
gets the absolute majority. Traber suggests that first one should try to
have some motions withdrawn or agree beforehand that the bottom motion will
be excluded, because the procedure may be rather long otherwise. This
procedure is not normal in cantonal assemblies, as far as I've checked.

Olli Salmi

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