Reserved political positions

  (Redirected from Reserved seats)

Several politico-constitutional arrangements use reserved political positions, especially when endeavoring to ensure the rights of women, minorities or other segments of society, or preserving a political balance of power. These arrangements can distort the democratic principle of one person - one vote in order to address special circumstances.[citation needed]

Countries with reserved seatsEdit



Since the 2015 Armenian constitutional referendum, electoral law requires that four seats for ethnic minorities (one Russians, Yezidis, Assyrians and Kurds each) are allocated in the National Assembly.


The Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region in Belgium includes 17 reserved seats for the Flemish minority, on a total of 89, but there are no separate electorates.


Croatia reserves eight seats from the minorities and three for citizens living abroad in its parliament. There are three seats for Serbs, one for Italians, and a few more for other ethnic groups, where a single representative represents more than one group (there is only one representative for both Czechs and Slovaks).[1]


The Republic of Cyprus is full of reserved political positions. Due to its nature as a bi-communal republic, certain posts are always appropriated among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. For example, the president is chosen from the Greek Cypriot community by using separate electoral rolls, whereas the vice president is chosen by the Turkish Cypriot community, using their own separate electoral rolls. Similarly 70% of the parliament are chosen from Greek Cypriots whereas 30% are chosen by and from Turkish Cypriots. In the Supreme Court, there should be one Greek, One Turkish and one neutral foreign judge.


The Folketing consists of 179 representatives; including two from Greenland and a further two from the Faroe Islands.


The Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo has 120 directly-elected members; 20 are reserved for national minorities as follows:[2]

Albanian is the official language of the majority, but all languages of minorities such as Serbian, Turkish and Bosnian are used, with simultaneous interpretation.


The National Assembly of Slovenia, has 88 members elected by party-list proportional representation. Another two seats are elected by the Italian and Hungarian ethnic minorities using the Borda count.[3]

United KingdomEdit

Political parties are permitted to restrict the selection of their candidates in constituencies to a specific gender under the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002; to date, only the Labour Party utilises the law.

The UK also reserves 26 seats in the House of Lords for Church of England bishops, who together are known as the Lords Spiritual.



The Constitution of Afghanistan guarantees at least 64 delegates to be female in the lower house of the bicameral National Assembly ("The elections law shall adopt measures to attain, through the electorate system, general and fair representation for all the people of the country, and proportionate to the population of very province, on average, at least two females shall be the elected members of the House of People from each province."), while Kochi nomads elect 10 representatives through a single national constituency. Moreover, "one third of the members (of the House of Elders) shall be appointed by the President, for a five-year term, from amongst experts and experienced personalities, including two members from amongst the impaired and handicapped, as well as two from nomads. The President shall appoint fifty percent of these individuals from amongst women."[4]


50 seats out of 350 in the Parliament are reserved for women.[5]


China's National People's Congress (NPC) includes special delegations for the military of China (the single largest NPC delegation (≈9%)) and Taiwan (a region it claims but does not control). 55 minority ethnic groups are recognized in China and each has as at least one delegate, though they belong to normal region delegations. Additionally, from 1954–1974, the NPC included a special delegation specifically for Overseas Chinese who returned to China.

Hong Kong and MacauEdit

Hong Kong and Macau provide for constituencies which represent professional or special interest groups rather than geographical locations. Voters for the members representing these constituencies include both natural persons as well as non-human local entities, including organizations and corporations.


India has seats in both houses of parliament, state assemblies, local municipal bodies and village-level institutions reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, better-known as Dalits and Adivasis respectively. The election of Dalit and tribal candidates is by the general electorate. Out of 543 constituencies in India's parliament, a total of 131 seats (24.16%) are Reserved or blocked for Representatives from Scheduled Castes (84) and Scheduled Tribes (47) only. This is different from separate electorate practiced in other countries. Many Indian states, like Kerala and Bihar, have parliamentary reserved seats for the Anglo-Indian community, as does the Lok Sabha.


Iran reserves a fixed number of seats in the Majlis for certain recognized non-Muslim ethnoreligious groups. To wit, two seats are reserved for the Christian Armenian community, and one seat each is reserved for the Assyrian and Chaldean Catholic, Jewish, and Zoroastrian communities.


Jordan has reserved seats for women, Christians, Circassians, Chechens, and Bedouins.[6]


Lebanon specifies the religious affiliation of several of its high officers, such as the President (Maronite), the Prime Minister (Sunni Muslim) and the Parliament's Speaker (Shia Muslim). Every electoral district for the parliamentary elections includes a fixed number of the various religious communities.


Pakistan reserves a fixed number of parliamentary seats for non-Muslims and women.


Some local legislatures in the Philippines has a reserved seat for indigenous people called "Indigenous People Mandatory Representation". These are elected by the indigenous people themselves.[7]

The Local Government Code also calls for reserved seats in local legislatures for women, workers, and one from the urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, disabled people and other sectors, but for these seats, no law has passed on how these seats will be filled up.

In Congress, no seats are reserved, although sectoral representatives were appointed by the president to the House of Representatives before the application of the party-list system.


Since 2008, in the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan, of the total 34 seats of party-list proportional representation, at least half of the party-nominated candidates must be reserved for women. For example, if one party elected 3 candidates of the party-list in the Legislative Yuan, 2 of them must be women. Along with this, since the 1970's six seats are reserved for the indigenous people of Taiwan. There are two constituencies consisting of three seats each reserved for the Highland Aborigine people and the Lowland Aborigine people.[8]



10 seats out of 105 seats in Parliament are reserved for women.


In the Parliament of Rwanda, a minimum of 30% of elected members of the 26-member Senate must be women. In the 80-member Chamber of Deputies, twenty-four of these seats are reserved for women, elected through a joint assembly of local government officials; another three seats are reserved for youth and disabled members.

Partly resulting from this arrangement, 45 female deputies were elected to the Parliament in 2008, making the country the first and only independent country to possess a female majority in its national legislature.


15 seats out of 255 in the Parliament are reserved for women.


The Ugandan constitution provides for a reserved woman's parliamentary seat from each of the 39 districts.



The Argentine law requires for a 50% quota for female candidates for Congress.


Under the 2016 peace agreement brokered between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group, five seats in the Senate and five seats in the House of Representatives are reserved for former FARC combatants.[9]

United StatesEdit

Due to treaties signed by the United States in 1830 and 1835, two Native American tribes (the Cherokee and Choctaw) each hold the right to a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives. As of 2019, only the Cherokee Nation has ever attempted to exercise that right.[10][11][12][13][14]

The Maine House of Representatives reserves three non-voting positions for the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Penobscot.[15]



Fiji used to provide for the election of specific numbers of Members of Parliament on the basis of three racially defined constituencies: the indigenous Fijians, the Fijian Indians and the "General" electorate.

New ZealandEdit

There are currently seven New Zealand Parliament constituencies – known as the Māori electorates – that are reserved for representatives of the Māori people. Māori electorates were introduced in 1867, but have undergone several changes since then. Māori may enrol either in a Māori electorate or on the general roll, but not both. Since 1967 there has not been any specific requirement for candidates in Māori electorates to be Māori themselves, and anyone on either the Māori roll or the General roll can stand as a candidate. Technically, therefore, these seats should not be described as "reserved" as there is no legal or constitutional guarantee that the successful candidate will themselves be of Māori descent. So far, however, every MP from a Māori electorate has been Māori. Also to note, is that under New Zealand's mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system, it is the party vote that is most important. All voters, including Māori, are deemed to be on the same master roll in terms of voting for party lists.

Countries formerly applying reserved political positionsEdit

German Democratic RepublicEdit

East Germany reserved seats in the Volkskammer for representatives of women, trade unions and youth organisations.


During the 1920s and 1930s there was a system of separate electoral curiae for Muslim and Jewish electors in Greece, with reserved seats.[16]

Palestine (British mandate)Edit

During the Mandatory Palestine, at the third election (1931) of its Assembly of Representatives, there were three curiae, for the Ashkenazi Jews, the Sephardi Jews and for the Yemeni Jews.[17][18][19][20]

Palestinian AuthorityEdit

While the Palestinian Authority makes no reservations within the Palestinian Legislative Council (there were reserved seats for Christians and Samaritans in the electoral law for the 1996 Palestinian general election), certain positions in local government are guaranteed to certain minority groups, in order to retain particular traditional cultural influence and diversity. For example, the mayor of Bethlehem is required to be a Christian, even though the city itself currently has a Muslim majority.


Syria enjoyed an electoral system like Lebanon's, at least for the parliamentary elections, up to 1949, when the subdivisions among each religion were suppressed, then there were only reserved seats for Christians up to 1963, when the Ba'athist regime suppressed free elections.[21][22][23]


Historically, Zimbabwe reserved 20 of the 100 seats in Parliament for the white minority, until these seats were abolished by constitutional amendment in 1987. Currently, 60 of the 270 seats in the House of Assembly are reserved for women.

Reserved seats for expatriatesEdit

See also Overseas constituency

  • Algeria reserves eight of its 382 parliamentary seats for expatriates, many of whom reside in France.
  • Cape Verde has three overseas seats reserved for expatriates
  • Colombia reserves one overseas seat to represent all expatriates
  • Croatia reserves no more than six seats in parliament for expatriates. The number of seats assigned to emigrants is based on participation rates in the election.
  • Ecuador has six parliamentary seats for expatriates
  • France reserves 12 seats in the Senate for expatriates, and 11 seats in the National Assembly.
  • Italy reserves seats in its Parliament for Italian expatriates, with twelve members of the Chamber of Deputies and six in the Senate representing an Overseas constituency.
  • Portugal's Assembly of the Republic has four seats reserved for Portuguese living abroad, two for those living in Europe, the other two for those living in other parts of the world.

Floating reserved seatsEdit

  • In Mauritius, the National Assembly consists of 70 members, 62 elected for a five-year term in a constituency in which 3 are elected in the constituencies of Mauritius (mainland) and 2 are elected in the constituency of Rodriques. From 4 up to 8 additional members, known as "best losers" appointed by the Electoral Supervisory Commission "with a view to correct any imbalance in community representation in Parliament".[24]
  • New Zealand reserves a proportion of its parliamentary seats for the representation of persons electing to register on a separate Māori roll. The number of seats depends upon the number of people on the roll — there are currently seven seats. See Māori electorates.

Exemption of the election thresholdEdit

In several countries, political parties representing recognized ethnic minorities are exempted from the election threshold. Examples are listed below.

Quotas inside party listsEdit

  • Iraq held its first post-Saddam parliamentary elections in January 2005 under an electoral law providing for compulsory integration of women on the candidates lists, like several European countries with a proportional electoral system.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Representative of National Minorities, Croatian Parliament's website
  2. ^ "[1]"
  3. ^ "Portal DZ - Electoral system". Retrieved Apr 2, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Chapter Five - The National Assembly, Constitution of Afghanistan)
  5. ^ "Aroma, Suborna to become MP as Awami League names 41 for reserved seats". 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  6. ^ "Independent Election Commission". Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  7. ^ "NCIP cites IP mandatory representation in local legislation". Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  8. ^ Hale, Erin. "'Always campaign time': Why Taiwan's indigenous people back KMT". Retrieved 25 June 2020. Since the 1970s, indigenous people have had reserved seats set aside for them in parliament - an arrangement that has continued into the democratic era. On Saturday, indigenous people will be able to vote for the president and a "party list" - MPs chosen based on the share of votes their party receives - like everyone else in Taiwan. But unlike the rest of the population, they will not get to vote for their district representatives. Instead, they will either vote for three "mountain" representatives or three "plains" representatives depending on the classification of their indigenous group. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Barajas, Angela (28 April 2017). "Colombia clears path for former FARC members to hold office". CNN. Retrieved 3 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Ahtone, Tristan (January 4, 2017). "The Cherokee Nation Is Entitled to a Delegate in Congress. But Will They Finally Send One?". YES! Magazine. Bainbridge Island, Washington. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  11. ^ Pommersheim, Frank (September 2, 2009). Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-19-970659-4. Retrieved January 4, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Rosser, Ezra (7 Nov 2005). "The Nature of Representation: The Cherokee Right to a Congressional Delegate". Boston University Public Interest Law Journal. 15 (91): 91–152. SSRN 842647.
  13. ^ "The Cherokee Nation wants a representative in Congress". Retrieved Apr 2, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Krehbiel-Burton, Lenzy (August 23, 2019). "Citing treaties, Cherokees call on Congress to seat delegate from tribe". Tulsa World. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  15. ^ "Maine House of Representatives". Retrieved 25 June 2020. The Maine House consists of 151 individuals, (88 Democrats, 56 Republicans, 5 Independents, and 1 Common Sense Independent). and currently 2 Vacancies). Plus seats for three nonvoting members representing the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Hersant, Jeanne; Yatropoulos, Nepheli (2008). "Mobilisation identitaire et représentation politique des 'Turcs' en Thrace occidentale : les élections législatives grecques de mars 2004". European Journal of Turkish Studies (in French). Paris: doi:10.4000/ejts.1342. Retrieved July 31, 2010. External link in |publisher= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Fannie Fern Andrews, The Holy Land under mandate, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company - The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1931, 2 vol. (ch. XIV - Building a Jewish corporate life, vol. II, 1-32)
  18. ^ Moshe Burstein, Self-government of the Jews in Palestine since 1900, Tel Aviv, Hapoel Hatzair, 1934
  19. ^ ESCO Foundation for Palestine, Inc., Palestine. A study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1947, 2 vol. (The growth and organization of the Jewish community, vol.II, 404-414)
  20. ^ Jacob C. Hurewitz, The struggle for Palestine, New York, Norton and Company, 1950 (ch. 3 - The political structure of the Yishuv, 38-50)
  21. ^ Albert H. Hourani, Minorities in the Arab World, London, Oxford University Press, 1947 ISBN 0-404-16402-1
  22. ^ Claude Palazzoli, La Syrie - Le rêve et la rupture, Paris, Le Sycomore, 1977 ISBN 2-86262-002-5
  23. ^ Nikolaos van Dam, The Struggle For Power in Syria: Politics and Society Under Asad and the Ba'th Party, London, Croom Helm, 1979 ISBN 1-86064-024-9
  24. ^ Website of the Mauritius Government Archived 2010-11-13 at the Wayback Machine