How does proportional representation compare to the American system?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In a proportional representation system, parties generally get to be represented in the legislature in proportion to the amount of the vote they receive.  In other words, a party that got 25% of the vote in a US election would get 0% of the representation.  In countries like Germany that use PR, that party would get around 25% of the seats in the Parliament.

Some argue that this system is fairer than the US system.  It allows more parties to enter politics and thereby lets more people have their voices heard.  In the US, a large minority might not be heard because it cannot defeat the major parties.  In a PR system, it would be heard.

The flip side to this is that a PR system is more prone to extremism and parties that concentrate only on single issues.  A party can get into the government and "cause trouble" simply by having strong support on a single issue.  Parties in PR, unlike those in the US, do not have to appeal to a broad range of people and so they do not encourage compromise.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial