The D’Hont Law is an electoral system created by a Belgian jurist at the end of the 19th century and is contemplated in the 1978 Constitution as the current system in Spain.
It is a proportionality system , which distributes the seats that each party obtains after the elections, but it does so proportionally by province, without taking into account the total vote.
The Spanish electoral map is divided into 52 constituencies and each of them is assigned, according to its population, a fixed number of seats.
But, how does it work
Let’s take for example any Spanish province with five seats attributed. How would those seats be distributed among all the votes cast in that place
We would have to divide the number of votes obtained by each political party between one, two, three, four and five (which is the total number of seats that count). The five largest figures of those divisions would be those who would occupy the assigned seats in parliament.
In other words, if the votes obtained by party A were 5,000 , that number would have to be divided by one (5,000), by two (2,500), by three (1,666.66), by four (1,250) and five (1,000). If the votes obtained by party Bwere 4,000, the same thing would be done. 4,000, 2,000, 1,333.33, 1,000 and 800 would be the results when dividing the total votes for that party by the figures for that constituency. If party C had obtained 1,000 votes, the results when making the divisions would be 1,000, 500, 333.33, 250 and 200. And so on with the rest of the parties.
In the end, the five highest figures obtained in each and every one of the divisions , would take the five seats that the province has. In other words, in the previous example, party A would obtain three seats (due to the figures 5,000, 2,500 and 1,666.66) and party B would win the other two (due to the result obtained in the divisions of 4,000 and 2,000).
The thousand votes of party Cthey would not have served him well to obtain any representation.
Who benefits from this system
Well, due to its characteristics, the D’Hont Law mainly favors the big parties and those that have a lot of representation in small areas.
In other words, the nationalist parties of the various autonomous communities, with broad representation in some provinces, manage to win seats, while parties with a national vocation and with the vote distributed throughout the territory have a smaller presence in parliament.
How is the distribution by provinces
In Spain there are 350 deputies, who come from the 52 Spanish provinces, although with very different figures depending on the population. Except for Ceuta and Melilla, which only have one seat each, the other provinces have at least two deputies.
Soria and Madrid would be at the extremes. While the least populated province sends two deputies to parliament, the capital of Spain sends 36. The consequence is that in Madrid, to get a deputy more than 100,000 votes are needed, in Soria only 25,000 are needed.