Gerald L. Curtis :: Different democracies
have different ways of electing people to office, because they have different "electoral
systems." In the United States we have a system, for example, for
members of the House of Representatives in which each district elects
one person — so whoever gets the most votes in the district becomes
a member of the House of Representatives.
In a lot of countries in Europe they have what's called a "proportional
representation system," in which voters don't vote for individuals,
but they vote for political parties, and if a party gets 20 percent of
the popular vote, it gets roughly 20 percent of the seats, and a party
that gets 6 percent of the popular vote gets 6 percent of the seats.
In other words it gets representation proportional to its vote.
The electoral system that was used in Japan until 1994 is different
from the electoral systems used elsewhere in the modern democratic world,
whether it be the so-called "first-past-the-post" kind of system
that's used for the U.S. House of Representatives and the British House
of Commons, or a P.R., proportional representation system, such as is
used in many European countries. The Japanese have a system called the "medium-size
election district" system.
This system was first adopted in Japan in 1925, and it was the electoral
system that was in effect from 1925 until 1993, with the exception of
just one election immediately after the Second World War. So for Japan,
the modern history of elections in Japan is a history almost entirely
of this "medium-size election district" system.