The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (the IEC) has issued an invitation to make representations on the proposed formula for the distribution of the regional seats to the National Assembly.
The South African Parliament is structured into two houses, consisting of a total of 490 seats: (i) the National Assembly, referred to as the lower house, which consists of 400 seats; and (ii) the National Council of Provinces, referred to as the upper house, which consists of 90 seats. As explained by the Helen Suzman Foundation, the allocation of seats in the National Assembly works as follows:
In order to allocate seats, the number of votes a party received is translated into a proportion of the seats in the National Assembly, first regionally and then nationally.
First, the number of votes equivalent to a single seat must be calculated. Each seat then represents a ‘quota’ of votes. The simplest way to do this is by dividing the total number of votes by the total number of seats (i.e. votes/seats). In South Africa we use a version of the Droop Quota method. For regional seats the quota is determined, for each region, by the total number of votes in that region and the total number of seats in that region. For the national seats, the quota is determined by the total number of votes in the country and the total number of national seats.
Seats are allocated proportionally – the number of seats allocated to a party depends on how many times the party meets a full quota. This is calculated by dividing each party’s share of the vote, regionally and then nationally, by the quotas determined at those levels. During this process the remainders are set aside. If, after this process, there are unallocated seats, the remaining seats are allocated to the parties who have the largest remainder. And so the 400 seats for the National Assembly are filled.
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 13 February 2019, and can be emailed to Mr Kgosietsile Tshoke: [email protected].
The invitation to make representations (via the Parliamentary Monitoring Group) is accessible here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].