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Posted 04 June 2009

A guide to PR-STV - the system of voting used in Ireland

The system of voting used in Ireland, which is called Proportional Representation by the Single Transferable Vote, is examined and explained by Professor Richard Sinnott from the UCD School of Politics and International Relations.

The simplest and most obvious way to run an election is to have the voter put an X opposite the name of his or her favourite candidate and then to give the seat to the candidate with the most votes, i.e. more votes than any other single candidate. The problem is that this can give rise to very unfair outcomes, as in the British election of 2005 when Labour got 35% of the vote and 55% of the seats while the Liberal Democrats got 22 % of the vote and only 10% of the seats. Discrepancies or disproportionalities of this sort arise quite frequently in British elections and in elections in other countries using this system. Proportional representation is designed to solve these problems. It comes in two main forms: list systems and single transferable vote systems. The second is of course the system used in Ireland and is known as PR-STV.

The guide to PR-STV is available on the RTÉ Elections 2009 website

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A guide to PR-STV - the system of voting used in Ireland
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