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I gather from your account that you have to poll at least 2% to get on first name terms with the electorate. Everyone under 2% is listed by their initial and surname only!
Why does it take the French two rounds of voting to decide an election? In Ireland, it's hard enough yo get people to come out to vote once, but you get to order the candidates 1,2,3,4... in order of you're choice and your vote is transferred to your next preference if you're higher preference is eliminated. More fun than having just one candidate to vote for, and you can give your no. 1 to a no hoper candidate you want to encourage and still have a say in deciding the final victor.
Index of Frank's Diaries
The two round voting is the brainchild of De Gaulle (and Michel Debré who wrote the constitution of the fifth Republic), who was obsessed with being accountable directly to the people. Hence the requirement for an absolute majority of votes (50% of the vote + 1) and a second round to ensure that, in case no candidate has reached absolute majority in the first round.
Parliamentary elections, scheduled for June 12 and 19, also do have the absolute majority requirement for the first round, and a few lawmakers get elected then. If no one gets an absolute majority, the candidates having got a number of votes corresponding to, at least, one eighth of the total of registered voters, can move to the second round. A relative majority is enough to get elected in the second round.
Preference based voting is an interesting system, but I'm afraid it might be a trifle too subtle for us, simple minded French :)
It also has a significant effect on political culture, as few candidates get elected on the strength of first preferences alone. All candidates and parties therefore seek to be as "transfer friendly" as possible and avoid insulting or sharp ideological exchanges with their opponents, as these tend to turn most voters off. This has an overall moderating effect on discourse and you don't get quite the extremes you get in some European countries.
N. Ireland is an interesting real world laboratory experiment in the effect of voting systems because Westminster Elections are still held on the basis of single seat, first past the post elections while the same constituency boundaries are used for 5 seat constituency NI Assembly elections (due next month). The first system tends to favour the big sectarian parties while the STV system enables the non-sectarian Alliance party and smaller parties like the Greens and socialists pick up the odd seat in more diverse constituencies - generally in later counts due to the transfer of lower preference votes.
It is getting to the stage where Alliance can challenge all the major parties and pick up seats even in Westminster elections, but it would never have been able to develop that electoral base without its success in local and Assembly elections. I will do a diary on it soon, but at the moment its still all to play for, with the odds being that Sinn Fein will displace the DUP as the largest party and become entitled to the First Minister role, a hugely significant symbolic blow to unionism, even if it means little in practice, as the First and Deputy first ministers can only act in concert.
Index of Frank's Diaries
(Of course, something proportional would be better, but for single offices, PV is about as good as you can get).
In the US "proportional representation" is informally expressed as a ratio, total population of a jurisdiction (city, county, state) divided by fixed number of legislative seats prescribed by a state's constitution. This formula prevails for federal representation, too. The principal effect of the decennial census population estimate requires states' legislators to revise electoral districts according to changes in federal apportionment produced by a multiplier value.
In the US, electoral systems are prescribed by local government to the extent allowed by a state's constitution and superceding electoral statutes. Thus, NYC can enact "ranked choice" (preference, or elimination, ballots) formula to elect officers within its jurisdiction, but election to NY state offices requires candidates' to obtain a simple plurality of votes to prevail (no runoff).
Where Ranked Choice Voting is Used as of April 2022
Political party by-laws and caucus candidate election systems are proprietary--beyond the pale of public law to the extent they to not ultimately prevent voters to elect anyone (including "write-ins") qualified for general election, administered by a state's electoral functionaries.
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