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Panachage (English: /ˌpænəˈʃɑːʒ/)[1] is the name given to a procedure provided for in several open-list variants of the party-list proportional representation system which gives voters more than one vote in the same ballot and allows them to distribute their votes between individual candidates from different party lists. It is used in elections at all levels in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, in congressional elections in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Honduras, as well as in local elections in a majority of German states and in French communes with under 1,000 inhabitants.

Among non-proportional systems, plurality-at-large voting, limited voting and cumulative voting can also allow individuals to distribute their votes between candidates from different parties.

Fictitious example

The Central Strelsau constituency in the Ruritanian Assembly of the Republic elects six members, and three lists, containing twenty-two candidates in total, are vying for its seats. There are 6,750 voters, and the voters can each select a maximum of six candidates.

The list totals mean that, on the basis of proportionality, the Social Democratic Party is entitled to three seats, National Consolidation two, and the League of Concerned Citizens one.

  • For the SDP, Megan Vargas and Matt Wright are elected first and second, and the tie for third place on the SDP list is broken in favor of the highest-ranked candidate: Pranav Kapoor. However, Megan Vargas – a non-political celebrity placed last on the list as a sign of endorsement – in the event declines election; accordingly, her place is taken by the next highest-ranked candidate: namely, Judy Bogart.
  • Tricia Chapman and Bob Jones are the twi list members elected for National Consolidation.
  • Sam Miller is initially elected for the LCC, but also declines election – in this case with the intention of ensuring that his list's leading candidate, Sylvia Ambrosetti, gets a seat.

The effects that panachage can have on an election can be demonstrated simply by comparing the actual results with those that would have been obtained under a closed-list system:

Only three of the candidates who would have been elected under the closed list were also initially elected under panachage, and out of the two who declined election, only one was replaced by a presumptive closed-list electee.


Until an 1899 reform in favour of an open-list electoral system and the parliamentary elections in 1900, panachage was possible in provincial and parliamentary elections in Belgium, and candidates were placed on lists in alphabetical order of name.[2] Municipal elections were still held under the panachage system until the 5 July 1976 Law. This change was adopted before the first elections (October 1976) following the 1976 communes merger which reduced the number of Belgian communes from 2,359 to 596. Law proposals were introduced in 1995 and 1999 by senators from the Volksunie to reinstitute it, but they were never put to votes.[3][4]


In the Ecuadorian parliamentary elections, voters have as many votes as there are seats to be distributed, and they may use them to support candidates across party lines (they may also give several votes to a single candidate).[5]

El Salvador

El Salvador adopted an open list proportional system for the 2012 legislative elections, and introduced panachage for the 2015 elections: "For the first time, voters will be able to select individual candidates from any party rather than being forced to vote for a single party with an established list of candidates. Voters can still opt to simply choose a party.".[6][7][8]


Since 2014, voters in municipal elections in communes having fewer than 1,000 inhabitants (at the time: 26,879 communes, representing 73.5% of the total) – the upper population limit before that had been 3,500 – have been able to cast ballot papers indicating their preference for candidates either listed or named individually, and, in addition, cross out if they so wish the names of one or more candidates. The number of candidates selected by a voter must not, however, exceed the total number of available seats.[9] Until a reform which came into effect on 17 May 2013, voters had been able to write in the names of other, unlisted eligible citizens; however, all nominations must now be filed in advance with the prefecture or sub-prefecture and voters may no longer add names on the day.[10]


Out of sixteen federal states, two (Bremen and Hamburg) adopted electoral systems including panachage (Panaschieren) for state and municipal elections, and eleven others only for municipal elections, the three exceptions being Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland. Except in Schleswig-Holstein, in the states allowing panachage the voter may also give more than one vote for one or several candidate(s) (Kumulieren).[11][12]


Panachage within an open list proportional system has been used since 2005 for legislative elections in Honduras.[13]


The Italian concept of voto disgiunto is not equivalent to the panachage concept as understood in other countries. It means the possibility at regional and municipal (in communes over 15,000 inhabitants), but not provincial, elections to vote for a list or a specific candidate on it (whose name has to be written on the ballot paper by the voter) and for a candidate to the presidency or the mayorship that may be on another list.


For legislative elections in Liechtenstein there are two constituencies, Oberland and Unterland. The first has 15 seats, the second ten. The voter must use only one ballot paper from one party, and has the right to vote for as many candidates as there are seats to be filled, which means either all the candidates on the party list or some of them and other, handwritten under "deleted" candidates. Using highlighters, writing comments on the ballot paper or putting more than one ballot paper in the ballot envelope voids the vote.[14]


In all proportional elections,[15] such as those for the Chamber of Deputies, a voter in Luxembourg has as many votes as there are seats to be filled in that constituency and can vote either for candidates on the same list or for candidates on different lists.[16]


In Switzerland, as well as distributing their votes between different lists (panachage), voters may add names to lists and/or delete one or more of the names appearing on others; this is a system that was also used in Austria until the 1970s.[17]

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