Advanced Search
 
The Additional Member System
All about the Additional Member System and its pros and cons
Additional Member System

Additional Member System (AMS), also known as Mixed Member Proportional

Where is AMS used?

The Scottish Parliament
The Welsh Assembly
The Greater London Assembly
The German Bundestag
New Zealand's House of Representatives
Mexico's Cámara de Diputados (lower house)
Bolivia's Cámara de Diputados (lower house)
Lesotho's National Assembly (lower house)


How does the Additional Member System work?

AMS is a hybrid voting system. It combines elements of First Past the Post where voters mark an X next to the candidate they want to represent them in their constituency, and proportional representation, where voters select from a list of candidates for each party who represent a larger regional constituency. This helps to overcome the disproportionally often associated with First Past the Post elections.

Under AMS, each voter typically gets two votes – one for a candidate and one for a party.

Each constituency returns a single candidate, in the style of First Past the Post. The votes for the party list candidates are then allocated on top of these constituency seats to ‘top up’ the number of seats won by each party to represent their share of the votes proportionally. These are the “additional members”.

Pros and cons of the Additional Member System

The case for

The arguments against

It is broadly proportional.

Many representatives are accountable to the party leadership rather than the voters.

Each voter has a directly accountable single constituency representative.

Having two different types of representative creates animosity between them. In Wales and Scotland, for example, AMs and MSPs elected via the regional lists have been seen as having 'got in via the backdoor' or as 'assisted place' or 'second class' members.

Every voter has at least one effective vote.

AMS sometimes gives rise to 'overhang' seats, where a party wins more seats via the constituency vote than it is entitled to according to their proportional vote. In Germany and New Zealand, but not in the UK, extra seats are allocated to the other parties to redress the balance. This can get complicated and lead to further bickering and animosity.

It allows a voter to express personal support for a candidate, without having to worry about going against their party.

It can be complicated, with people getting confused over exactly what they're supposed to do with their two votes.



Other voting systems by type

Proportional Representation
Party List PR
Single Transferable Vote

Mixed Systems 
Additional Member System
Alternative Vote Plus

Majoritarian Systems
Alternative Vote
Block Vote
Borda Count
First Past The Post
Limited Vote
Supplementary Vote
Two-Round System
Recent News
3rd March 2015
The Lord Speaker of the House of Lords proposed an interesting idea in the Telegraph yesterday. In a comment piece for the paper, Baroness Frances D’Souza argues that the upper chamber should be ‘one in, one out’ to stop its further expansion – a sort of ‘stasis through retirement’ approach.   She’s certainly right to note […]
27th February 2015
David Cameron and Nick Clegg were in Wales this morning, announcing further powers to be devolved to the Assembly.   The UK Government is proposing to devolve control over elections to the National Assembly which would see AMs handed power to:   Change the voting system for Assembly and local elections Introduce votes at 16 for Assembly […]
25th February 2015
The ERS has long campaigned for devolution to the local level, but the Society also campaigns for proportional representation at a local level. Here ERS Deputy Chief Executive Darren Hughes outlines why they should go hand in hand.   Sign our petition for a fairer local voting system   The decision by the government to […]