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Two-Round System

Two-Round System (TRS), also known as Run-off Voting

How does the Two-Round System work?

Where is TRS used?

• French legislative, presidential and cantonal elections

• The Heads of State in a number of European countries.

The Two-Round System is similar to the Alternative Vote (AV). Voters mark their preferred candidate with an “X”, if the candidate wins a certain level of support (usually 50 percent of the vote) they are elected.

If no one wins 50 percent of the vote, all candidates except the top two are excluded and voters are asked to vote a second time, usually two or three weeks later. In the second round, the candidate who wins the most votes is elected.

 

Pros and Cons of the Two-Round System

The case for

The arguments against

It is slightly more representative than First Past the Post (FPTP) and can be of benefit to smaller parties.

It has similar disadvantages to First Past the Post (FPTP) and is less sophisticated than the Alternative Vote (AV).

It is often said that in the first-round you vote with your heart, and in the second you vote with your head. Hence there is less need to vote tactically in the first-round.

It is highly disproportional and favours large parties.

Second-round bartering encourages parties to remain friendly with each other (although this tends to be true only within broad party “blocs”).

The voting process is drawn out over a period of two or three weeks and possibly longer.

It is easy for voters to understand and is simple to count.

 

Unlike AV, the first-round encourages a certain amount of tactical voting because of risk of the compromise choice not reaching second-round.

 

If no compromise candidate reaches the second-round, it can lead to surprising outcomes: Jean-Marie Le Pen of the French National Front qualified for the second-round in the French Presidential election in 2002 to the horror of many observers. This ultimately gave Jacques Chirac one of the biggest electoral landslides in French history.


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

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