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What are the different types of representation?

The two major types of representation common to most democratic electoral systems are the pluralist and the proportional systems. The pluralist system uses a "winner take all" method to assign seats in a legislative body. In the proportional system, seats in a legislative body are divided based on the proportion of votes won by a party or candidate group.

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In democratic electoral systems, there are two major types of representation: proportional and pluralist.

In a pluralist system, which is the dominant system in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other English-speaking countries, representatives to a legislative body are elected on the basis of pluralist (or, in some cases, majoritarian) principles. In other words, whichever candidate or party receives the most votes within a constituency or electoral district wins the seat from that constituency or electoral district and, with it, the right to represent its residents.

In a proportional system, representatives to a legislative body are divided in such a way as to proportionally reflect the desires of all significant segments of the body politic. To better explain this, imagine an electoral district assigned five seats in a legislative body. In a pluralist system, whichever party received the greatest number of votes cast in an election would win all of the seats. In a proportional system, the seats would be divided based on the share of votes received by each party. So, if Party A received sixty percent of the vote, it would receive three seats. If Party B received twenty percent of the vote, it would receive one seat, and so forth.

In addition to the proportional and pluralist systems of representation, there are also mixed systems—combining aspects of both proportional and pluralist systems—and some rarer, more exotic types.

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