The Legislative Council is elected using a form of proportional representation, with the State divided into six multi-member electorates.
Since reforms introduced on 23 May 2005, each of the six electorates returns six members. This differs from the Legislative Assembly, where a different system of voting produces a single representative for each electorate.
Three of the electorates are country areas and three are metropolitan based.
The six electorates do not need to have an equal number of voters. Metropolitan electorates (East, North and South Metro) have a substantially greater number of voters than the country electorates (Mining and Pastoral, Agricultural and South-West). As metropolitan regions have two to four times the number of voters as country regions, this system gives rural areas a higher number of members per voter.
Using a different electoral system for each House means the political composition of each House may be quite different. The Legislative Council has traditionally been controlled by a coalition of the Liberal and National parties. Proportional representation makes it easier (compared to the Legislative Assembly) for minor parties and independents to be elected. As such, minor parties tend to be more common in the Council, and may even hold the balance of power.
The Legislative Council since May 22 2009
The present term of the Legislative Council commenced on May 22 2009 and will expire on May 21 2013.
The Liberal-National coalition hold a majority of the Council seats (21 out of 36 seats), providing the Government with a majority in both Houses of Parliament. The current political composition of the Legislative Council is: