AskDefine | Define constituency

Dictionary Definition

constituency n : the body of voters who elect a representative for their area

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. A district represented by an elected official; the voters of such a district.

Translations

district represented by an elected official

Extensive Definition

A constituency is any cohesive corporate unit or body bound by shared structures, goals or loyalty. It can be used to describe a business's customer base and shareholders, or a charity's donors or those it serves. The most common meaning of constituency occurs in politics and means either the group of people from whom an individual or organization hopes to attract support, or the group of people or geographical area that a particular elected representative or group of elected representatives represents. The rest of this article deals with this sense of constituency.
When used specifically, a constituency usually refers to the group or area from which voters in an election are drawn. Depending on the electoral system being used, a constituency may elect one or more members. For instance, in the United Kingdom, House of Commons Parliamentary constituencies each elect one Member of Parliament using a first past the post system (though some used to elect more than one), while the larger European Parliament constituencies each elect a number of Members of the European Parliament (see 'Regions of England').
In Namibia and in Canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland, it is also used as an administrative division.
A marginal constituency (or "swing seat") is one where the margin between the expected voting for the major parties in an election is slim. In United Kingdom general elections, the voting in a relatively small number of marginal constituencies usually determines the outcome of the entire election. Currently the most marginal UK constituency is Crawley in West Sussex where Labour have a majority of 37 votes over The Conservative Party.
In Australia, federal constituencies are officially termed divisions, and their state counterparts electoral districts. At both levels, though, they are popularly referred to as electorates or seats.
In Canada, constituencies are legally known as electoral districts (in French, circonscriptions) for Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies or Members of Provincial Parliament (Ontario) at the provincial level, although "constituency" and the informal term "riding" (or "comté" in French) are also used.

France

In France, electoral constituencies are known as circonscriptions électorales.
For parliamentary elections, they are known as circonscriptions législatives, and for departemental one, France uses cantons.

Germany

In Germany, there are 299 basic electoral constituencies (called Wahlkreise), accounting for half of the 598 nominal seats in the German Bundestag in a "First Past the Post electoral system". The constituencies for the rest of the seats are the federal states, representatives being drawn from the top of their respective electoral lists. The former constituencies are divided so that each has approximately the same number of voters. German electoral law dictates that the deviation from average of all constituencies shall not exceed a certain figure (see for example § 3 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 in German electoral law). Other restrictions prevent abuses such as gerry-mandering.
Similar provisions obtain for many of the federal state parliaments, though constituencies are generally smaller and boundaries change more frequently. Representatives to the European Parliament are only elected by party proportion and state.

Hong Kong

The unicameral Legislative Council has 60 members, 30 returned from five geographical constituencies based on the Hare quota and largest remainder method, and the remaining 30 returned through 28 functional constituencies.

Iceland

In Iceland, there are 6 constituencies, which are Norðvesturkjördæmi, Norðausturkjördæmi, Suðvesturkjördæmi, Suðurkjördæmi, Reykjavíkurkjördæmi norður, and Reykjavíkurkjördæmi suður. The Icelandic word for constituency is kjordæmi.

Ireland (Republic)

Constituencies in the Republic of Ireland elect between three and five Teachta Dálas (TDs), while constituencies between 1536 and 1800 in the Kingdom of Ireland used to return two MPs.

India

In India constituency is an area, where people of this notified area elect their representative either to Lok Sabha or state legislature or local governing bodies. India has multi tier democratic system . The apex legislature body of India which form part of Union government is Loksabha ( Lower house ), then there are state legislature also called legislative assembly ( Vidhan Sabha ), then Zilla Parishad, Taluk Panchayat and Grama Panchayat.Hence every area has a constituency under which it falls. List:List of Indian constituencies

Malaysia

There are 222 parliamentary constituencies in Malaysia. The seats are indicated as P.xxx. Each constituency is represented by an elected Member of Parliament who sits at the lower house of the Parliament of Malaysia called Dewan Rakyat. With the exception of Federal Territory parliamentary seats, these constituencies are further divided into 505 state legislative assembly districts, whose representative will sit at their respective state legislative assembly. The state assembly seats are indicated as N.xx.

Singapore

In Singapore, there are 14 group representation constituencies and nine single-member constituencies, giving a total of 23 constituencies. Group representation constituencies elect between three to six MPs to the Parliament of Singapore, while single member constituencies elect one.

Spain

In Spain, electoral constituencies are known as circunscripciones. Under Article 68 of the Spanish constitution the boundaries must be the same as the provinces of Spain and under Article 140 this can only be altered with the approval of congress. Voting is on the basis of universal suffrage in a secret ballot. Article 68 also states that the number of deputies must not be less than 300 nor exceed 400, that the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla should be single member districts, that provinces should be guaranteed an initial minimum representation and that the electoral system should be proportional representation, although it does not specify a particular type.
Constituency magnitude has normally been small. Currently 27 of the 52 districts elect between three and five members. A further ten elect six or seven members. This has tended to favour the larger parties at the expense of smaller lists. Consequently it has been common for smaller parties to form ad hoc alliances with larger parties by forming joint lists. The electoral system used is closed list proportional representation with seats allocated using the D'Hondt method. Only lists which poll 3% or more of all valid votes cast, including votes "en blanco" i.e. for "none of the above" can be considered for seats. In practice the 3% threshold has usually been unnecessary as the effective representation threshold has been much higher. The sole exception was the 1993 election in Madrid where a minor party list lost a seat.

Switzerland

In Switzerland, the Canton of St. Gallen uses the Wahlkreise (constituency or electoral district) in place of the previous, and more usual, district. See Canton of St. Gallen#Constituencies and municipalities.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a parliamentary constituency is sometimes called a Parliamentary seat or a Division. Constituencies for local government elections are called either Wards or electoral divisions.
As of 2005, there are 646 House of Commons constituencies in the UK:
Northern Ireland has 18 constituencies, each of which elect six MLAs to the Northern Ireland Assembly under the Single Transferable Vote system.
The Scottish Parliament has 73 single-member constituencies elected on a first past the post basis, with the remaining 56 seats in the parliament being selected by the Additional Member System (AMS). Since the passage of the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004, the constituencies of the Scottish Parliament are no longer identical to those of the House of Commons.
The National Assembly for Wales has 40 constituencies elected by first past the post which are identical to the Welsh constituencies of the House of Commons. Its remaining 20 seats are selected by AMS.
The London Assembly has 14 constituencies elected by first past the post, described in the article on London Assembly constituencies. Its remaining 11 seats are also selected by AMS.

United States

In the United States, electoral constituencies for the federal House of Representatives are known as congressional districts (of which there are presently 435; the number can be increased so long as it does not exceed the constitutional limit of one per 30,000 citizens), while the constituencies for the variously named state legislatures go by a variety of names (and have differing numbers). Long standing practice, reinforced and modified by several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, require the equalization of populations of constituencies after each decennial census, a process known as redistricting.
When driven by partisan bodies, this process opens up the possibility of gerrymandering for political or factional advantage. Gerrymandering cannot be used to the disadvantage of any specific racial group (e.g., placing a predominantly African-American community in several districts to dilute the vote would be unconstitutional), but is perfectly legal to dilute the voting strength of the opposing party.

Others

Most of the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations also use constituencies as electoral divisions. For details of constituencies in these and other places see:

Synonyms

Marginal constituencies are also known as:

References

constituency in Catalan: Circumscripció electoral
constituency in Chechen: Избирательнийн округ
constituency in Welsh: Etholaeth
constituency in Danish: Valgkreds
constituency in German: Wahlkreis
constituency in Esperanto: Elektodistrikto
constituency in Spanish: Circunscripción electoral
constituency in Finnish: Vaalipiiri
constituency in Faroese: Valdømi
constituency in French: Circonscription
constituency in Italian: Circoscrizione elettorale
constituency in Japanese: 選挙区
constituency in Dutch: Kieskring
constituency in Polish: Okręg wyborczy
constituency in Portuguese: Círculo eleitoral
constituency in Simple English: Constituency
constituency in Swedish: Valkrets
constituency in Chinese: 選區

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

affiliates, ambit, associates, bailiwick, body of affiliates, citizenry, commonwealth, community, constituents, cultural community, dwellers, electoral college, electorate, electors, folk, footing, general public, habitancy, inhabitants, linguistic community, members, membership, nation, orbit, people, people at large, populace, population, public, society, speech community, sphere of influence, stamping ground, territory, turf, vantage, whole people
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