20 March 2005

Protest Votes and Fringe Parties

A few ideas to bring together on dealing with a first-past-the-post electoral system.

Assuming you're not one of the few lucky people who have a major party that
shares your policies, you have several choices:
  • Ignore politics (most popular option by a long, long way)
  • Vote for the party nearest your views and count that as enough
  • Vote tactically against the party furthest from your views and count that as enough
  • Spoil your ballot in an attempt to show disaffection
  • Vote for the major party most likely to change the voting system
  • Join the party nearest your views and try to move it in your direction
  • Support a minor party in the hope it will become a major party
  • Support a minor party in the hope it will affect the policies of the major party.
I would have thought the above list was exhaustive, but a new tactic has been introduced:
  • Vote tactically against the major party you're closest to in the hope of affecting its policies
The first five are working with the parties as they are — either making the best of what's
offered or attempting to change the voting system.

The next three attempt to change the political shape within the same system.

The only recent UK example of a minor party getting anywhere near becoming major is the SDP, which was formed by disaffected Labour MPs in the 1980s, won a few seats and eventually merged with the Liberal Party to form the current Liberal Democratic Party. The last new major party before that was the Labour Party.

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