Updated with more information on the electoral system (next to last paragraph).
The Kingdom of Morocco–a semi-democratic regime–has parliamentary elections today. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) expects to emerge as the largest party, Reuters South Africa reports.
Then Reuters goes on to say:
But a complex voting system will make it almost impossible for any group to win a majority.
Please excuse me while I scream…
OK, that felt good. What is so complex about the Moroccan electoral system?
It is a pretty standard party-list “proportional-representation” system–as best as I can tell from sketchy information: multi-districted and lists appear to be closed. I am unsure whether the threshold for representation was changed from 3% to 7%, or possibly 6%, as proposed a year ago. If it is now 7% (or even 6%), that’s actually not such standard PR, but it is also neither complex, nor a feature that reduces the chance for a parliamentary majority. In any event, in an electoral system based on many small districts, even as high a threshold as 7% would matter only in the few high-magnitude districts, unless the threshold is like that of Turkey, banning a party from winning a seat it has the local votes for if it has not passed a national minimum.1
According to the Database of Electoral Systems and the Personal Vote, the Moroccan electoral system is of a variant that shouldn’t even be called PR. The average district magnitude, at least as of 2005, is under 4, and while there is a national tier, it comprises less than 10% of the seats. This electoral system would be relatively “majoritarian,” despite employing party lists and a “PR” formula.
It’s not the electoral system–and certainly not any complexities within it–that may result in no party winning a majority of seats. It’s that the voters are divided in their preferences amongst several parties and, almost certainly, that much of that division is regionally based. (Small magnitudes with fragmentation but at least one nationally strong party would make a (manufactured) majority rather likely.)
- Looking at incomplete results for 2002 at Adam Carr’s site, I am guessing it is a threshold of this sort, making Morocco even less typical of PR systems–and more majoritarian. It appears no district had more than 5 seats, meaning a 3% (or even 6% or 7%) threshold at the level of allocation district would have no impact unless fragmentation was extreme. Also, the smallest party on nationwide votes shown to have won seats in these incomplete data had just over 3%. [↩]