How Proportional Is The Electoral Rule Employed In Armenia? An Application of Gallagher’s Least Squares Index of Disproportionality

by Gayane Shakhmuradyan

For the most of its electoral history since independence, Armenia employed a mixed electoral system. The shares of majoritarian and proportional seats were as follows: 150/40 in 1995, 75/56 in 1999 and 2003, 41/90 in 2007 and 2012 (Constitution of the Republic of Armenia 1995, with the Amendments of 27th November 2005, Art. 63; Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia 1999, Art. 95; Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia 2011, Art. 103). With the constitutional amendments of 2015 and the adoption of the new electoral code in May 2016, a transition was made from a semi-presidential form of government to parliamentary and from a mixed electoral system to proportional. According to these amendments, the National Assembly has to have at least 101 members and all have to be elected through party lists (Constitution of the Republic of Armenia 2015, Art. 89; Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia 2016, Articles 76-77, 81, and 83)

A tentative statement about the degree of proportionality of the employed electoral rule can be made by looking at the numbers in the table below.

 

Table 1. The Mechanical Effects of the Electoral Rule Employed in Armenia (List Proportional)

Table 1. The Mechanical Effects of the Electoral Rule Employed in Armenia (List Proportional)

Table source: self-constructed, using the data from the Central Electoral Commission website

As can be seen, the largest party, RPA, got nine seats more than it would have if the system were perfectly proportional. The second largest faction in the parliament, “Tsarukyan” alliance, has 31 seats instead of the 27 that it was supposed to have. The smaller parties/alliances received seats that approximate proportionality: “Way Out” Alliance has only one seat more, and ARF has none. The logical conclusion is that the system employed, though proportional, clearly favours large parties. Mathematical proof for this statement can be advanced by applying Gallagher’s Least squares index of disproportionality [1]. The index varies between 0 (full proportionality) and 100 (total disproportionality). See Gallagher (1991)

LSq =  (1)         (58-49.08)2 + (9-7.78)2+ (31-27.32)2+ (7-6.57)2 =94.7821

(2)                              94.7821/2=47.39105

(3)                             47.39105 6.8

The obtained value of 6.8 is relatively high for a proportional system [2]. Note, however, that it is close to the world average (see Figure 1 below).

Gallagher Electoral Disproportionality

Figure 1.

Source: https://www.r-bloggers.com/disproportionality-data/

This simple analysis demonstrates that Armenia’s new electoral system is not entirely proportional. It favours big parties. This disproportionality, however, does not mean Armenia is some kind of an anomaly; it follows a common pattern, frequently found in other countries.

 Notes

[1] Gallagher’s Least Squares Index of disproportionality is a measure of the degree to which votes are proportionately translated into parliamentary seats and is computed by the following formula:

formula

where v is the percentage of votes for party i, s is the percentage of seats for it, and Ʃ is the sum of all parties.

[2] Data on the number of effective parties and the values of LSq for over 1, 100 elections in 100 countries can be found at https://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/staff/michael_gallagher/ElSystems/Docts/ElectionIndices.pdf

Bibliography

Gallagher, M. 1991. Proportionality, Disproportionality, and Electoral Systems. Electoral Studies, 10 (1), 33-51.

The Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Armenia. Official Website. 2017. http://www.elections.am/

The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. 1995. (With the Amendments of 27th November 2005). http://www.parliament.am/parliament.php?id=constitution&lang=eng

The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. 2015. http://www.parliament.am/legislation.php?sel=show&ID=5805&lang=eng

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