How The Election System Works

Electoral units (brown lines) and electoral precints (black lines) (source)

So, today is the day when I write my long-dreaded and difficult post on Slovenian election system. 😕


Slovenian parliament is consisted of 90 deputies (MPs). 88 of those are elected in general elections, whereas Hungarian and Italian minority get one MP each, elected in their special elections. Political parties which compete for the 88 parliamentary seats must win at least 4 percent of the vote to be eligible to enter the parliament.


Members of Hungarian and Italian minorities vote twice. As citizens of the Republic of Slovenia they cast their vote for any of the parties competing for the 88 seats, but as members of a minority, they also cast a vote for minority MP. Only a member of a minortiy can run for a minority seat in the parliament, and he can be elected only by members of his/her minority. There are some 9000 members of Italian minority and some 3000 members of Hungarian minority in Slovenia and their MPs traditionally sided with whatever government there was in power.


Slovenia is divided into eight voting units, each of them divided into eleven voting precincts, equaling 88 precincts, with 11 MPs elected from a particular unit. But – as we shall see – this does not mean that every precinct gets its own MP. Technically, the system in place is called “proportional electoral system with elements of majoritarian system“.

Also, bear in mind that votes for parties which have not received more 4 percent of the vote or more, will not be included in the calculation of the result.

The number of mandates (seats in the parliament) is calculated twice, first using the Drop quota, and then using the d’Hondt method.


After he votes had been counted by precinct voting committees, all the votes for a particular party are calculated on a per-voting-unit basis and then divided by twelve. We get a number which the total number of votes for a party is divided with. The result (rounded to the lower non-decimal number) is the number of seats for a particular party. Which of the party’s candidates from a the voting unit will make it to the parliament, however, will depend on how many votes they have received in their respective precinct.

Let’s assume that party X got some 60.000 votes in a voting unit which consists of some 200.000 eligible voters. Divide that with 12 and you get 16.666,67. Now divide 60.000 (the number of votes) with 16.667,<67 and you get 3.59 mandates. This means that our party X got 3 mandates, which go to those three candidates from its list which have received the largest number of votes in their respective precints. Apply this method to every other party and repeat for all eight voting units, and you have given away most of the 88 mandates. D’HONDT METHOD

What is left of the 88 mandates is calculated using the d’Hondt method. This was a pain the arse even when I was at the university, so forgive me for being a bit slow in writing this… In this method, the total number of mandates all parties would have received on state level is calculated, by dividing total number of votes by every number from 1 to 88, where the quotient (1 to 88) is increased by one when the result of the operation for the strongest party equals less than the total number of votes for the next strongest party.

Have a good look at this Wikipedia example for a detailed explanation.

Hoever, in case of Slovenia and our party X the d’Hont method is only used to get the number of mandates beyond what the party had already won using the Droop quota. So, if Party X got 15 mandates using the Droop quota and would have goten seventeen mandates using d’Hondt method, it gets two additional mandates, totalling seventen.

PROs and CONs

One of the drawbacks of this system is that not every precinct necesarily gets its own MP. Since candidates of every party are listed according to the number of votes in voting unit it is possible for a precinct to be MP-less if most of its candidates across the board fared miserably compared to their coleagues in other precintcs within the voting unit. Also, the system allows for the mathematical possibility that Candidate A for party X gets more votes in voting unit 1 than candidate B in voting unit 2, but it will be candidate B who gets in the parliament, because he fared better within the unit.

On the other hand, the above anomalies are not all that abundant, whereas the system as such prevents MPs as being solely representatives of their constituents. Rather, each of them is reprepsenting voters as a whole, making it a trifle more difficult for an MP to push a set of particular interests on the agenda.

I hope any of this made sense. My head is still spinning 😀

Tommorow: Whom did Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković pick as his favourite?

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

4 thoughts on “How The Election System Works”

  1. thanks for the refresher course… one does tend to get confused 🙂 and do keep us posted on Zoki… three is a lucky number and an added bonus makes the triplets even luckier 😈

  2. Though I still haven’t understood §92 ZVDZ in all aspects it seems to be an quite cool one! (And I could imagine it will be changed sometime…)

    Nur drei von 18 bisherigen Minister schafften Sprung ins Parlament: Zu den prominenten abgewählten Ministern zählen politische Schwergewichte wie Außenminister Dimitrij Rupel, Innenminister Dragutin Mate oder Umweltminister Janez Podobnik, aber auch Verwaltungsminister Gregor Virant…
    Grund für diese zahlreichen “Betriebsunfälle” sind die Besonderheiten des slowenischen Wahlrechts, das im Gegensatz zum österreichischen keine “sicheren” Mandate kennt und auch keine Bundesliste, über die Parteigranden ins Parlament gehievt werden können. Das Land ist in acht Wahlkreise geteilt, in denen jeweils elf Mandate vergeben werden. Die einzelnen Kandidaten treten aber jeweils in einem der 88 Wahlbezirke an, und konkurrieren dort auch gegen ihre Parteikollegen in den anderen Bezirken. Bei der Vergabe der von den einzelnen Parteien errungenen Mandate kommen nämlich jene Bewerber zum Zug, die in ihrem Wahlbezirk die meisten Stimmen erhalten haben. Damit ist die Mandatsverteilung stark vom lokalen Wahlausgang abhängig, der kaum vorherzusagen ist. Dies rächte sich heuer besonders für die SDS. Fast alle Minister traten nämlich in den Wahlkreisen Ljubljana und Westslowenien an, in denen die oppositionellen Sozialdemokraten besonders stark abschnitten. DerStandard

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