Second Ballot is a type of electoral system that (as the name suggests) allows the voters to vote twice. This is a majoritarian system that doesn't even attempt to be proportional and neither does it try to give fair representation to small parties.

How it Works

Parties put up candidates for election in the single member constituency. Then there is the first vote. The voters vote for whoever they like and the votes are tallied. If one of the candidates wins over 50% of the vote (wins a majority) then that candidate automatically wins. If there is no clear winner then there is a second ballot (hence the name) about a week or so later.

At this point things can differ depending on how the system is implemented:


  • It is difficult for small parties (possibly extremists) to gain control of power. This is due to the majoritarian nature of the system.
  • It leads to a non-coalition government which (some people believe) is a strong governent.
  • If a voter's vote is wasted on a candidate that loses in the first election then they can make a difference in the second vote.
  • Because of the above it gives the winner legitimacy (which is very important).



In France they use the Second Ballot system for their presidential elections. To get into the second ballot (if no one has won a clear majority in the first ballot) then you must be one of the top two. In the second ballot you are then guarenteed to get one candidate winning a majority.

They also use a Second Ballot system for their parliamentary elections (where the candidates have to surpass 12.5% share of the votes to go to the next ballot) and the municipal elections use an even more complex system of Second Ballot. thanks to Linca for those omissions

These are the results from the 1995 presidential election

First Ballot

Lionel Jospin (PS): 23.2%
Jacques Chirac (RPR): 20.4%
Edouard Balladur (RPR): 18.5%
Jean-Marie Le Pen (FN): 15.2%
Robert Hue (PCF): 8.7%

Second Ballot

Jacques Chirac: 52.7%
Lionel Jospin: 47.3%

Jacques Chirac won the elections and became President of the Republic of France.

See also:

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