New seat sharing formula will give control to only one party

In addition to reducing the number of representatives to be elected by 2024, a new seat distribution method will be implemented that benefits the highest average and reduces the possibility of more plural representation.

The electoral process for representatives of the Legislative Assembly this year includes not only a reduction in the number of seats to be elected to the said state body from 84 to 60, but also a change in the formula used for distribution of seats. itself, which in the opinion of experts provides greater representation to larger parties.

In June 2023, the Legislative Assembly dominated by Nuevas Ideas reformed Article 217 of the Electoral Code to establish the D’Hondt method for distribution. This is a formula that is related to the formulas of principal averages, unlike the previous Hare system which was for principal remainders or prime divisors.

Lawyer Ruth Lopez, an expert on electoral issues, commented that the D’Hondt system is used in fractional party systems “to give more seats, more power, representation to the party that has the most votes,” similar to previous formulas. Against of. Which provided greater plurality to legislative representation.

ALSO: El Salvador without fair elections and moving toward a single party, according to IUDOP survey

Both the change in formula and the reduction in the number of representatives to be elected reduce the possibility of more plural representation in the legislative body.

López commented that in the 2021 elections, Nuevas Ideas obtained 64% of the votes and with the D’Hondt formula it would have obtained 92% of the seats; But Hare won 65% seats under the system.

“That ratio, precisely, is the ratio of votes and seats that the change in the formula and the reduction in representatives gives you. Ruth Lopez said, “They are not random, there is a clear intention to ensure control over the assembly.”

He pointed out that by giving more seats to a party in exchange for a certain number of votes, this inequality creates over-representation.

“It is a statistical distribution or distribution formula that benefits the largest data group and penalizes smaller groups,” said Oscar Picardo, director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation at Francisco Gavidia University (ICTI-UFG).

The results of the “VI Study of Social and Political Humor Electoral Perspectives 2024”, recently presented by the electoral observation association “Observa El Salvador 2024”, show that with the D’Hondt system, Nuevas Ideas would obtain 57 out of 60 seats. The Arena Party will get only two and the PDC only one.

According to the survey, with the formula of quotient and residuals, the ruling party got 48 seats out of 60, ARENA got three, FMLN one, Vamos one, PDC three, Fuerza Solidaria one, PCN one and GANA two seats. Will meet. ,

Picardo described that territorial reorganization with special municipal reorganization legislation and the use of the D’Hondt formula are both “masterstrokes to weaken political parties.”

He explained that it is a more complex formula than other formulas used and it distributes marks on ballot papers or votes.

In the February 2024 elections, 60 representatives of the Legislative Assembly will be elected for the next three years. Photo EDH Francisco Rubio

How is the formula applied?

Malcolm Cartagena, an expert on electoral issues, explains that the D’Hondt formula involves dividing the total valid votes received by each political party in each department by natural numbers until the number of delegates assigned to each department is reached.

ALSO: El Salvador will have only three opposition representatives, according to UFG survey

Thus, in departments where two representatives have been appointed, the number of votes obtained will be divided between one and two. Then in divisions having three seats, votes will be divided between one, two and three. Similarly, those who have four, five, seven and 16 fixed seats.

“It divides each party’s votes by one, each party’s votes by two, then each party’s votes by three. That is, it’s not dividing what’s left, but it’s dividing the original total of valid votes of each party, it’s dividing it by one, two, three,” Cartagena said.

At the end of the divisions, the grid of all results will be analyzed and ranked from highest to lowest. “If we’re in Santa Ana and there are five seats, look at the five highest averages, that is, what was the outcome of the apportionment, the five that were highest and those are the seats that are coming to each party,” he added.

Unlike the Hare formula used in previous elections, the total votes are divided by the total number of seats in the department and then reviewed to see how many times each party’s total votes fit into that quotient. “Not here, every game here is divided between the natural numbers,” said Carthagena.

With the reform of last June, the San Salvador department will have 16 councils, La Libertad will have seven, Santa Ana, San Miguel and Sonsonate will have five councils each; Usulután will have four, Ahuachapán and La Paz will each have three; And La Union, Cuscatlán, Chalatenango, Morazán, San Vicente and Cabañas will each have two representatives.

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