A common divisor method for allocation of seats to lists based on their votes in PR systems or to jurisdictions based on their population is named for the Belgian who “invented” the method in Europe.1 But what was the Belgian’s name? Victor d’Hondt? Victor D’Hondt?
I learned d’Hondt. And this seems to be how most of the political science literature on electoral systems spells the name. It is also how the most recent book on the quantitative analysis of electoral systems spells it: Rein Taagepera, Predicting Party Sizes (Oxford, 2007).2 However, the glossary of the edited volume by Michael Gallagher and Paul Mitchell, The Politics of Electoral Systems (Oxford, 2005), says, in part and at p. 632:
Devised by Belgian law professor Victor D’Hondt (1841â€“1901). Often spelled ‘d’Hondt’ but correctly spelled with a capital D (see any Belgian library catalogue, including that of his former university, the University of Ghent)
That is pretty persuasive (all the more so because the Gallagher/Mitchell volume contains a chapter on Belgium, authored by a Belgian specialist in electoral systems).
So, I am making the transition to D’Hondt3 It is hard, however, as I have spent years “correcting” students or authors of papers I was reviewing when they wrote it as D’Hondt rather than d’Hondt.
It would be so much easier to just refer to it by the name of the man who actually invented an identical rule, in a proposal before Congress in 1792.4 There is, as far as I know, no controversy over how to spell the name of Thomas Jefferson.5
By the way, Wikipedia spells it D’Hondt.
Next up: The great pronunciation controversy. Don’t mis-pronounced it!
- The rule divides the shares (of votes won by parties or populations of jurisdictions) by successive divisors starting with 1 and increasing each by 1 (i.e., 1, 2, 3,…). It then allocates seats according to the resulting quotients. [↩]
- Of course, it was from Taagepera that I learned how to spell the name of the common divisor formula. But, as I noted, he is hardly alone in using that spelling. [↩]
- And wishing the US Democratic Party would do as well. Though if they prefer to use d’Hondt, that would likewise be an improvement. [↩]
- Some other common ‘PR’ formulas also had earlier US inventors for apportionment of House seats among the several states: Sainte-LaguÃ«/Webster and Hare/Hamilton (a quota-and-largest-remainders rule, rather than a divisor method). A very interesting point in Taagepera’s book, at pp. 32-3 (citing Colomer 2004:44), is that d’Hondt is the “remainderless quota” or “sufficient quota”; i.e., the quota for a given votes distribution that is sufficient to allocate all seats without any recourse to remainders. All the more reason why it is arguably the more desirable ‘PR’ method. As Taagepera puts it: “It is at the crossroads of quota and divisor methods.” [↩]
- And, it would be sensible for a US party to use the formula invented by one of the founders of the Democrat-Republican Party! [↩]