Proportional ranking in primary elections: A case study

Ariel Rosenfeld, Ehud Shapiro, Nimrod Talmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many democratic political parties hold primary elections, which nicely reflects their democratic nature and promotes, among other things, the democratic value of inclusiveness. However, the methods currently used for holding such primary elections may not be the most suitable, especially if some form of proportional ranking is desired. In this paper, we compare different algorithmic methods for holding primaries (i.e., different aggregation methods for voters’ ballots) by evaluating the degree of proportional ranking that is achieved by each of them using real-world data. In particular, we compare six different algorithms by analyzing real-world data from a recent primary election conducted by the Israeli Democratit party. Technically, we analyze unique voter data and evaluate the proportionality achieved by means of cluster analysis, aiming at pinpointing the representation that is granted to different voter groups under each of the algorithmic methods considered. Our findings suggest that, contrary to the most-prominent primaries algorithm used (i.e., Approval), other methods such as Sequential Proportional Approval or Phragmen can bring about better proportional ranking and thus may be better suited for primary elections in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-346
Number of pages12
JournalParty Politics
Issue number2
Early online date2022
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research is supported by Israel Science Foundation (630/19).

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation630/19


    • Primary elections
    • case study
    • proportional ranking
    • representation


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