Direct Representation is an electoral formula designed both to be simple and to achieve a close match between the number of votes a candidate receives and their voting power in the legislative body. In this last respect, Direct Representation is similar to Proportional Representation.
Direct Representation essentially uses direct voting (as in direct or pure democracy) but voters are allowed to give their vote to a group or individual to vote in their place.
All voters get one vote to use in the legislature, which may be used directly or delegated to a representative. Representatives may be either individuals or groups which have binding rules to decide how to use votes which have been delegated to them.
The size of the legislature is set at a specific number. The candidates who receive (by delegation) the highest number of citizen votes receive the right to vote in the physical legislative building until the size of the legislature. For example, if the size of the legislature is set at 100, the first 100 candidates with the highest number of votes receive the right to vote at the physical legislative building. Candidates who are not amongst the top vote recievers and individuals who do not choose a representative do not receive the right to vote in the physical legislative building, although they may be granted that privilege, but they do retain the right to vote in some distance voting system, such as voting by mail or internet voting.
In the legislative body, group and individual representatives and vote on legislation using the votes delegated to them. Legislation rules are based on specific fractions of the total vote. For example, legislation could require 55% of the vote in order to pass. Fractional voting is permitted. For example, a representative may vote 60% of their votes yes and 40% of their votes no on a piece of legislation. This allows more creative and freeform uses of votes by representatives.
Because the total number of voters in an election will change, the total number of votes that can be cast on legislation will change every election. Therefore, it is more useful to refer to the fraction of the total votes that a representative has than to refer to the number of votes they have.
Political Parties in Direct Representation
In Direct Representation, parties are formed as groups with a particular platform, and they must have constitution which provides a well defined rule for deciding how it votes in the legislature with the votes that have been delegated to it. Parties are free-form in the sense that parties make up their own rules for voting and intra-party activities through defining their constitution. In Direct Representation, unlike other systems, political parties can receive and use votes directly.
Examples of party rules used to decide voting:
- Plurality voting amongst a set of delegates
- Unanimous voting amongst a set of delegates
- Delegate voting, all delegates decide the use of some fraction of the party vote
- Random voting, the party votes by fliping a coin
A different type of party may also exist; individual candidates or groups may label themselves as belonging to a party, much like parties in the U.S., but the candidates will still retain their own constitutions.
Differences between Direct Representation and Proportional Representation
In Proportional Representation, votes (or seats) are always held by individuals and each individual may only have one vote. In Direct Representation, both individuals and parties can hold votes (though not the same votes), and both can hold multiple votes.
Combination with other electoral formulas
Direct Representation is not limited to electing whole legislatures; it may be combined with other formulas to create the whole legislative body. For example, in a bicameral system, Direct Representation may be used to distribute the votes in one house, and another formula, for example, plurality voting by district, may be used to distribute the votes in the other.