Modern Electoral Colleges
Countries with complex regional electorates may elect a head of state by means of an electoral college rather than a direct popular election. The United States is the only current example of an indirectly elected executive president, with an electoral college comprising electors representing the 50 states and the federal district. Each state has a number of electors equal to its Congressional representation (in both houses), with the non-state District of Columbia receiving three electors and other non-state territories having no electors. The electors generally cast their votes for the winner of the popular vote in their respective states. However, there are several states where this is not required by law. In the United States, 270 electoral votes are required to win the presidential election.
Similar systems are used or have been used in other presidential elections around the world. The President of Finland was elected by an electoral college between 1919 and 1987. In Germany the members of the federal parliament together with an equal number of people elected from the state parliaments constitute the Federal Convention, that exists for the only purpose of electing the (non-executive) head of state. Similarly, in India the members of the lower house of Parliament together with weighted votes from the state parliaments elect the head of state. In Italy the presidential electoral college is composed of the members of both houses of Parliament and three members elected by each of the regional assemblies. During Brazil's military rule period, the president was elected by an electoral college comprising senators, deputies, state deputies, and lawmakers in the cities. Argentina had an electoral college established by its original 1853 constitution, which was used to elect its president during that country's periods of democracy. The constitution was reformed in 1994 and the electoral college was replaced with a direct election by popular vote with runoff round. In France, the first presidential election of the French Fifth Republic was the only French presidential election where the winner was determined via an electoral college.
Other countries with electoral college systems include Burundi, Estonia, India, France (for the French Senate), the Republic of Ireland (for Seanad Éireann), Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu. Within China, both Macau and Hong Kong each have an Election Committee which functions as an electoral college for selecting the Chief Executive and formerly (in the case of Hong Kong) for selecting some of the seats of the Legislative Council.
Another type of Electoral College is used by the British Labour Party to choose its leader. The college consists of three equally weighted sections: the votes of Labour MPs and MEPs; the votes of affiliated trade unions and socialist societies; and the votes of individual members of Constituency Labour Parties.
Ecclesiastical electoral colleges abound in modern times, especially among Protestant and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. In the Eastern rite churches, all the bishops of an autocephalous church elect successor bishops, thus serving as an electoral college for all the episcopal sees.
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