What are the most important differences between a single-member district system and a proportional representation system? Which is more democratic? Which is more efficient? Which do you prefer, and why?
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Explanation & Answer
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Single-Member District System and a Proportional Representation System
The single member district (SMD) system, also known as plurality and the proportional
representation (PR) system form the two major methods employed by democracies to elect the
legislature (Benoit, 2007). The SMD and the PR exist in different democracies all over the
world, but SMD is present in America, Canada, United Kingdom and some African countries.
However, there exists a huge difference between the SMD and the PR methods. First, the SMD
is achieved at constituency level, whereas the PR is nation-wide (Colomer, 2007). For the SMD,
the constituents get to choose their representatives based on who gets the most votes in the
election while those who gather less votes get nothing. But in the PR system, the representation
in the House is divided among all political parties that contested in the election irrespective of
the total votes garnered (Carey and Simon, 2011). Second, in the SMD method small parties
have no place in constituencies and in the House while in the PR system, all parties have
positions in the House. Therefore, in the SMD small parties have no position to contribute to the
country’s legislature whereas in the PR system, even the smallest party’s voice is heard in
Third, the SMD method is greatly influenced by the country’s major political parties and
constituents elect representatives in bid to support their preferred presidential candidate (Carey
and Simon, 2011). But for the PR method, decisions to elect representatives are without favor of
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a popular candidate. For the SMD method, it’s quite unfortunate because the constituents can
elect a poor-performing candidate just to show solidarity with senior party members. However,
in the PR system, candidates would be elected without biasness since the people’s interests will
be presented no matter who is elected. Fourth, SMD systems produce less inclusive parliaments
while the PR systems lead to an al inclusive parliament. That means that in SMD method,