First Past the Post (FPTP) Vs Proportional Representation Vs MMPR System: Which one is best?

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Source: This article First Past the Post (FPTP) Vs Proportional Representation Vs MMPR System: Which one is best? has been created based on the article “Is it time for proportional representation?”, published in “The Hindu” on 10th June 2024. 

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper 2- Indian Polity – Electoral Reforms

Context: The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) secured a majority by winning 293 seats with 43.3% of the national vote share. However, the opposition INDIA bloc, despite garnering 41.6% of votes, could win only 234 seats. In this context, the article discusses the potential benefits and challenges of adopting a Proportional Representation (PR) system in India’s electoral democracy.

What is FPTP system and what are the issues associated with it?

At present, India is following First Past the Post (FPTP) system. It has few basic flaws, like, it often results in a significant mismatch between the percentage of votes received by political parties and their representation in legislative bodies. For example, Congress historically winning 75% of seats with 45-47% vote share, and NDA securing 64 out of 66 seats in three states with around 55% vote share.

However, it also has many advantages like, this system is simple and feasible in a large country like India. It also provides greater stability to the executive by ensuring a majority for the ruling party/coalition.

What is Proportional Representation (PR) System?

In the Proportional Representation (PR) system, a party is allocated legislative seats based on their overall vote share, nationally. One such system is ‘party list PR’, in this system, voters vote for the party and not individual candidates.

Advantages of PR System: Every party, getting a percentage of vote from the voters, will get representation in the Parliament.

Issues associated with PR System: PR systems can potentially lead to fragmented legislatures and unstable governments, as no single party or alliance may secure an outright majority.

It also has a potential to formations of political parties based on the religion, caste, language, region, leading to division within the country.

What is Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR) system?

This system addresses the flaws of PR and FPTP systems. It uses the mix of both these systems. For example, Germany, follows the MMPR system. In their Bundestag (like India’s Lok Sabha), there are 598 seats. They fill 299 seats (50%) from constituencies under the FPTP system and rest of the seats are allocated as per the PR system. Similar system is followed by South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.

Significance of the MMPR system

1) Stability: By adopting MMPR, India can achieve a balance between the stability offered by the FPTP system and the fair representation ensured by proportional representation.

2) Representation to smaller states: This system can potentially mitigate feelings of disenchantment among smaller states and regions that may lose out under a purely population-based seat allocation.

3) Law commission recommendation: in its 170th report, ‘Reform of the electoral laws’ (1999), recommended the introduction of the MMPR system on an experimental basis.

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