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Panachage (English: /ˌpænəˈʃɑːʒ/, from French meaning "blend, mixture")[1] is the name given to a procedure provided for in several open-list variants of the party-list proportional representation system. It gives voters more than one vote in the same ballot and allows them to distribute their votes between or among individual candidates from different party lists. Seats are allocated to parties based on party vote share, with the seats of a party going to the most-popular candidate(s) of that party.[2]

It is used in elections at all levels in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland; in congressional elections in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Honduras; and in local elections in a majority of German states, in Czechia, and in French communes with under 1,000 inhabitants.

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

Fictitious example[edit]

The Central Strelsau constituency in the Ruritanian Assembly of the Republic elects six members. 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 and seats are distributed by the D´Hondt method..

Election results
Social Democratic Party National Consolidation League of Concerned Citizens
Candidate Votes Candidate Votes Candidate Votes
Alice Brown 1,407 Bob Jones 4,662 Sylvia Ambrosetti 3,901
Matt Wright 3,901 David "D-Dog" Ng 4,195 Sam Miller 4,662
Pranav Kapoor 3,213 Allison Cook 3,901 Pat Malkiewicz 1,214
Judy Bogart 3,213 Tricia Chapman 5,873 Rick Vogelman 2,217
Thomas McLeish 3,213 Nikki Jefferson 1,254 David Higgins 749
Maurice Vuong 2,725 Gene MacDonald 536 Duncan Bradshaw 329
Sean Stephens 1,867 John Smith 2,087
Megan Vargas 5,455 Raymond Sullivan 905
SDP Total 24,994 NC Total 23,413 LCC Total 13,072
Election results
Party Quotients Seats
Social Democratic Party 24,994 12,497 8,331 6,249 4,999 4,166 3
National Consolidation 23,413 11,707 7,804 5,853 4,683 3,902 2
League of Concerned Citizens 13,072 6,536 4,357 3,268 2,614 2,179 1

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 two 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 these results with those that would have been obtained under a closed-list system:

Election results
Party Elected candidates
Elected by panachage Elected by closed list voting
Social Democratic Party Megan Vargas
Judy Bogart
Alice Brown 1,407
Matt Wright 3,901 Matt Wright 3,901
Pranav Kapoor 3,213 Pranav Kapoor 3,213
National Consolidation Tricia Chapman 5,873 Bob Jones 4,662
Bob Jones 4,662 David "D-Dog" Ng 4,195
League of Concerned Citizens Sam Miller
Sylvia Ambrosetti
Sylvia Ambrosetti 3,901

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


From 1912 to 1948, argentinian voters had the possibility of crossing out or adding candidates to the electoral lists of the legislative elections.[3]


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. Candidates were placed on lists in alphabetical order of surname.[4]

Municipal elections were held under the panachage system until passage of 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. Bills were introduced in 1995 and 1999 by senators from the Volksunie to reinstitute panachage, but they were never put to votes.[5][6]


In the Ecuadorian parliamentary elections, voters have as many votes as there are seats to be filled. They may use their votes to support candidates across party lines (and they may also give several votes to a single candidate).[7]

El Salvador[edit]

El Salvador adopted an open list proportional system for the 2012 legislative elections. It 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.".



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) 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. (Before that time, the upper population limit for communes qualified for this system of voting had been 3,500.) The number of candidates selected by a voter must not, however, exceed the total number of available seats.[11]

Until a reform effective 17 May 2013, voters had been able to write in the names of other, unlisted eligible citizens. But now all nominations must be filed in advance with the prefecture or sub-prefecture, and voters may no longer add names on election day.[12]


Of sixteen federal states, two of them, Bremen and Hamburg - both of which are city-states - adopted electoral systems including panachage (Panaschieren) for state and municipal elections. Eleven others use the system only for municipal elections. Except in Schleswig-Holstein, in the states allowing panachage, the voter may give more than one vote for one or several candidate(s) (Kumulieren). Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland are three states that do not use panachage at all.[13][14]


Panachage within an open list proportional system has been used since 2005 for legislative elections in Honduras.[15]


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 elections (in communes over 15,000 inhabitants) 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 who may be on another list. This system is not used for provincial elections.


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: this may mean either all the candidates on the party list, or some of them and other candidates, added in handwriting 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.[16]


In all proportional elections,[17] 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. The individual may vote either for candidates on the same list or for candidates on different lists and may allocate up to two votes to a single candidate.[18]


In Switzerland, in addition to being able to distribute 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 system was also used in Austria until the 1970s.[19]


  1. ^ "Merriam-Webster – panachage". Retrieved 14 Aug 2019.
  2. ^ Hoag and Hallett, Proportional Representation, p. 52-53
  3. ^ Elecciones (PDF). Estudios e Investigaciones Nº7 (in Spanish). Vol. I. Directorate of Parliamentary Information of the National Congress. April 1993. p. 17. ISBN 987-685-009-7.
  4. ^ (in French) "Evolution de la législation électorale", SPF Intérieur - Direction des Elections (Federal Public Service Interior - Elections Office), 26 January 2010
  5. ^ (in French) Jan Loones, Bert Anciaux, Christiaan Vandenbroeke, "Proposition de loi modifiant la loi électorale communale et instaurant le vote panaché", Senate of Belgium, 13 July 1995
  6. ^ (in French) Vincent Van Quickenborne, "Proposition de loi modifiant la loi électorale communale et instaurant le vote panaché", Senate of Belgium, 24 November 1999
  7. ^ Craig Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America, Routledge, 2015 ISBN 9781317348825 p.339
  8. ^ George Rodriguez, "Voters head to the polls in El Salvador to elect legislators, mayors", Tico Times, 28 February 2015
  9. ^ (in Spanish) "Papeletas para las elecciones 2015 (reproduction of ballot papers and explanation of the new voting system)", Tribunal Supremo Electoral
  10. ^ Matthew S. Shugart, "El Salvador joins the panachage ranks, president’s party holds steady", Fruits and Votes, 8 March 2015
  11. ^ (in French) "LOI n° 2013-403 du 17 mai 2013 relative à l'élection des conseillers départementaux, des conseillers municipaux et des conseillers communautaires, et modifiant le calendrier électoral" [LAW No. 2013-403 of 17 May 2013 concerning the election of departmental councilors, city councilors and community councilors and amending the electoral calendar] (in French). Legifrance. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2014..
  12. ^ (in French) "Code électoral – Article L255-4" [Election Code – Article L255-4] (in French). Legifrance. 23 March 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014..
  13. ^ (in German) Martin Fehndrich, Panaschieren,, 19 March 2009
  14. ^ (in German) Interactive vote simulation, 2016
  15. ^ "Honduras", Election Passport
  16. ^ (in German) Wie wählen, Information und Kommunikation der Regierung (a Liechtenstein's Government website), 2013
  17. ^ some communes use the system of relative majority, cf. Local Elections, (The official presentation website of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), Updated 28 April 2015
  18. ^ IFES Election Guide: Country Profile - Luxembourg. Retrieved on 23 April 2008.
  19. ^ "Splitting the vote Archived 2015-04-07 at the Library of Congress Web Archives", "Accumulating Archived 2015-04-07 at the Library of Congress Web Archives" and "Deleting a name Archived 2015-04-07 at the Library of Congress Web Archives", The Election Dictionary, website of the Swiss Parliament