How Will Seats Be Allocated Under The PR System?

By Mabinty Kamara

Sierra Leone will be using the Proportional Representation (PR) system in the June 2023 elections for the first time since 2002. The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) has decided to use a district block system.

Under this system, each district will be treated as a constituency and a number of seats have been allocated to it. In total, there are 16 electoral districts in Sierra Leone and 22 local councils.

But How Are Seats Going to Be Allocated Under This New System?

To start with, there will be 135 seats in Parliament; this is three more than we had in the fifth parliament that was dissolved recently. So why 135 seats? ECSL decided to get the average between the 2016 census and the 2021 mid-term census, given how controversial both censuses were.

The 2016 census gave 132 constituencies and the 2021 census gave 137 constituencies. So 132 +137 divided by 2 = 134.5. This was then rounded up to 135, since there is no half seat.

This mathematics also affected the council seats. In 2018, elections were held for 489 wards, now it will be done for 493.

The Threshold and the Formula

The threshold to win a Parliamentary seat is 11.9% while the threshold to win a Councillor seat is 4.5%.

How were these calculations reached? To get the threshold for MP seat, ECSL used this formula: 16 electoral districts divided by 135 seats in Parliament multiplied by 100, which looks like this 16÷135×100 = 11.9%.

For Councillors, the formula is: 22 local councils divided by 493 wards multiplied by 100, which looks like 22÷493×100 = 4.5%.

This formula applies to every candidate, whether you are running under a political party or as an independent. For every candidate, their total votes in a district will be broken down into this calculation using this formula.

To nominate for the elections, for both MPs and Councillors, political parties had to present two lists of their first choice and second choice. All d candidates were put in numerical order.

Seats will be allocated according to that numerical order in each district.

What happens to Independent Candidates?

Independent candidates do not have a list; they present themselves forward as individuals. If they get 11.9% of the total votes in the district where they are running, they win if they get more than that they still win and the remainder votes go to waste. Because votes cannot be transferred from one candidate to another.


This public education article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

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