Two-Round System

What is a Two-Round System?
The pros and cons of Two-Round Systems

Two-Round System

Two-Round System (TRS), also known as Run-off Voting

How does the Two-Round System work?

Where is TRS used?

• French legislative, presidential and cantonal elections

• The Heads of State in a number of European countries.

Voters mark their preferred candidate with an “X”, if the candidate wins 50 percent of the vote they are elected, otherwise a second ballot is held, usually two or three weeks later.

For the French National Assembly, all candidates winning more than 12.5% of the votes of registered voters, or the top two candidates if two candidates didn’t make it, go through to a second round. In other countries just the top two candidates go through. The candidate who wins the most votes in the second ballot is elected.

The Two-Round System is similar to the Alternative Vote (AV) and Supplementary Vote (SV) .


Pros and Cons of the Two-Round System

The case for

The arguments against

It is slightly more representative at the constituency level than First Past the Post (FPTP).

It has many of the disadvantages of First Past the Post (FPTP) such as wasted votes

It is often said that in the first-round you vote with your heart, and in the second you vote with your head. Hence there is less need to vote tactically in the first-round.

It is highly disproportional and favours large parties.

Second-round bartering encourages parties to remain friendly with each other (although this tends to be true only within broad party “blocs”).

The voting process is drawn out over a period of two or three weeks and possibly longer.

It is easy for voters to understand and is simple to count.


The first-round encourages a certain amount of tactical voting because of risk of the compromise choice not reaching second-round.


If no compromise candidate reaches the second-round, it can lead to surprising outcomes: Jean-Marie Le Pen of the French National Front qualified for the second-round in the French Presidential election in 2002. This ultimately gave Jacques Chirac one of the biggest electoral landslides in French history.


Excluding smaller parties can foster disillusionment with the political system


When a number of candidates get to the second round, they can agree amongst themsleves that one of their number should stand down to exclude a third.

Voting Systems

Proportional Representation Mixed Systems Majoritarian Systems
More representative as seats are distributed according to vote share. Combines the features of majoritarian-style systems and Proportional Representation. Systems that are highly disproportional.
Single Transferable Vote Additional Member System First Past the Post
Party List PR Alternative Vote Plus Alternative Vote
    Borda Count
    Block Vote
    Limited Vote
    Supplementary Vote
    Two-Round System