This article needs additional citations for verification . (October 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Part of the Politics series|
A multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national election, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coalition.Apart from one-party-dominant and two-party systems, multi-party systems tend to be more common in parliamentary systems than presidential systems and far more common in countries that use proportional representation compared to countries that use first-past-the-post elections. Several parties compete for power and all of them have reasonable chance of forming government.
First-past-the-post requires concentrated areas of support for large representation in the legislature whereas proportional representation better reflects the range of a population's views. Proportional systems may have multi-member districts with more than one representative elected from a given district to the same legislative body, and thus a greater number of viable parties. Duverger's law states that the number of viable political parties is one, plus the number of seats in a district.
Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Tunisia, and Ukraine are examples of nations that have used a multi-party system effectively in their democracies. In these countries, usually no single party has a parliamentary majority by itself. Instead, multiple political parties are compelled to form compromised coalitions for the purpose of developing power blocks and attaining legitimate mandate.
A system where only two parties have the possibility of winning an election is called a two-party system. A system where only three parties have a realistic possibility of winning an election or forming a coalition is sometimes called a "Third-party system". But, in some cases the system is called a "Stalled Third-Party System," when there are three parties and all three parties win a large number of votes, but only two have a chance of winning an election. Usually this is because the electoral system penalises the third party, e.g. as in Canadian or UK politics. In the 2010 UK elections, the Liberal Democrats gained 23% of the total vote but won less than 10% of the seats due to the first-past-the-post electoral system. Despite this, they still had enough seats (and enough public support) to form coalitions with one of the two major parties, or to make deals in order to gain their support. An example is the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition formed after the 2010 general election. Another is the Lib-Lab pact during Prime Minister James Callaghan's Minority Labour Government; when Labour lost its three-seat majority in 1977, the pact fell short of a full coalition. In Canada, there are three major federal political parties: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, and the New Democratic Party. However, in recent Canadian history, the Liberals and Conservatives (and their states) have been the only two parties to elect a Prime Minister in Canada, with the New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois and Green Party often winning seats in the House of Commons. The main exception was the 2011 Canadian election when the New Democrats were the Official Opposition and the Liberal Party was reduced to third party status.
Unlike a one-party system (or a two-party system), a multi-party system encourages the general constituency to form multiple distinct, officially recognized groups, generally called political parties. Each party competes for votes from the enfranchised constituents (those allowed to vote). A multi-party system prevents the leadership of a single party from controlling a single legislative chamber without challenge.
If the government includes an elected Congress or Parliament, the parties may share power according to proportional representation or the first-past-the-post system. In proportional representation, each party wins a number of seats proportional to the number of votes it receives. In first-past-the-post, the electorate is divided into a number of districts, each of which selects one person to fill one seat by a plurality of the vote. First-past-the-post is not conducive to a proliferation of parties, and naturally gravitates toward a two-party system, in which only two parties have a real chance of electing their candidates to office. This gravitation is known as Duverger's law. Proportional representation, on the other hand, does not have this tendency, and allows multiple major parties to arise. But, recent coalition governments, such as that in the U.K., represent two-party systems rather than multi-party systems. This is regardless of the number of parties in government.[ dubious ]
A two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles. Some theories argue that this allows centrists to gain control. On the other hand, if there are multiple major parties, each with less than a majority of the vote, the parties are strongly motivated to work together to form working governments. This also promotes centrism, as well as promoting coalition-building skills while discouraging polarization.
A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate, reducing the dominance of any one party within that "coalition". The usual reason for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the election. A coalition government might also be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis to give a government the high degree of perceived political legitimacy or collective identity, it can also play a role in diminishing internal political strife. In such times, parties have formed all-party coalitions. If a coalition collapses, a confidence vote is held or a motion of no confidence is taken.
Plurality voting is an electoral system in which each voter is allowed to vote for only one candidate, and the candidate who polls the most among their counterparts is elected. In a system based on single-member districts, it may be called first-past-the-post (FPTP), single-choice voting, simple plurality or relative/simple majority. In a system based on multi-member districts, it may be referred to as winner-takes-all or bloc voting. The system is often used to elect members of a legislative assembly or executive officers. It is the most common form of the system, and is used in most elections in the United States, the lower house in India, elections to the House of Commons and English local elections in the United Kingdom.
Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. If n% of the electorate support a particular political party or set of candidates as their favorite, then roughly n% of seats will be won by that party or those candidates. The essence of such systems is that all votes contribute to the result—not just a plurality, or a bare majority. The most prevalent forms of proportional representation all require the use of multiple-member voting districts, as it is not possible to fill a single seat in a proportional manner. In fact, PR systems that achieve the highest levels of proportionality tend to include districts with large numbers of seats.
In politics, a two-party system is a party system in which two major political parties dominate the political landscape. At any point in time, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature and is usually referred to as the majority or governing party while the other is the minority or opposition party. Around the world, the term has different senses. For example, in the United States, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Malta, and Zimbabwe, the sense of two-party system describes an arrangement in which all or nearly all elected officials belong to one of the only two major parties, and third parties rarely win any seats in the legislature. In such arrangements, two-party systems are thought to result from various factors like winner-takes-all election rules. In such systems, while chances for third-party candidates winning election to major national office are remote, it is possible for groups within the larger parties, or in opposition to one or both of them, to exert influence on the two major parties. In contrast, in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia and in other parliamentary systems and elsewhere, the term two-party system is sometimes used to indicate an arrangement in which two major parties dominate elections but in which there are viable third parties that do win seats in the legislature, and in which the two major parties exert proportionately greater influence than their percentage of votes would suggest.
The electoral threshold, or election threshold, is the minimum share of the primary vote which a candidate or political party requires to achieve before they become entitled to any representation in a legislature. This limit can operate in various ways. For example, in party-list proportional representation systems an electoral threshold requires that a party must receive a specified minimum percentage of votes, either nationally or in a particular electoral district, to obtain any seats in the legislature. In multi-member constituencies using preferential voting, besides the electoral threshold, to be awarded a seat, a candidate is also required to achieve a quota, either on the primary vote or after distribution of preferences, which depends on the number of members to be return from a constituency.
In political science, Duverger's law holds that plurality-rule elections structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system, whereas "the double ballot majority system and proportional representation tend to favor multipartism". The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle.
Single non-transferable vote or SNTV is an electoral system used in multi-member constituency elections. It is a generalization of first-past-the-post, applied to multi-member constituencies.
The additional member system (AMS), also known as mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) outside the United Kingdom, is a mixed electoral system with one tier of single-member district representatives, and another tier of ‘additional members’ elected to make the overall election results more proportional.
In a first-past-the-post electoral system, voters cast their vote for a candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins. FPTP is a plurality voting method, and is primarily used in systems that use single-member electoral divisions. FPTP is used in about a third of the world's countries, mostly in the English-speaking world.
Scotland is a country which is in a political union with the rest of the United Kingdom. It was directly governed by the British Government from 1707 until 1999, when a system of devolution re-established a Scottish Parliament with control over much of Scottish law.
Electoral reform in New Zealand has, in recent years, become a political issue as major changes have been made to both parliamentary and local government electoral systems.
There are four types of elections in Finland. Each Finnish citizen at least 18 years of age has the right to vote in each of the elections, which decide the following: the president, the parliament, the MEPs, and the municipal and city councils.
The Folketing, also known as the Danish Parliament in English, is the unicameral national legislature (parliament) of the Kingdom of Denmark—Denmark proper together with the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Established in 1849, until 1953 the Folketing was the lower house of a bicameral parliament, called the Rigsdag; the upper house was Landstinget. It meets in Christiansborg Palace, on the islet of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen.
The alternative vote plus (AV+), or alternative vote top-up, is a semi-proportional voting system. AV+ was devised by the 1998 Jenkins Commission which first proposed the idea as a system that could be used for elections to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
In electoral politics, a third party is any party contending for votes that failed to outpoll either of its two strongest rivals. The distinction is particularly significant in two-party systems. In any case "third" is often used figuratively, as in "the third parties", where the intent, literally stated, is "the third and succeeding parties".
A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no particular political party or pre-existing coalition has an absolute majority of legislators in a parliament or other legislature. This situation is also known, albeit less commonly, as a balanced parliament, or as a legislature under no overall control, and can result in a minority government. The term is not relevant in multi-party systems where it is rare for a single party to hold a majority.
A single-member district or single-member constituency is an electoral district that returns one officeholder to a body with multiple members such as a legislature. This is also sometimes called single-winner voting or winner takes all. The alternatives are multi-member districts or the election of a body by the whole electorate voting as one constituency.
Multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV), also known as plurality-at-large voting or block vote, is a non-proportional voting system for electing several representatives from a single multi-member electoral district using a series of check boxes and tallying votes similar to a plurality election. Multiple winners are elected simultaneously to serve the district. Block voting is not a system for obtaining proportional representation; instead the usual result is that where the candidates divide into definitive parties the most popular party in the district sees its full slate of candidates elected, resulting in a landslide.
Electoral reform is change in electoral systems to improve how public desires are expressed in election results. That can include reforms of:
An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Political electoral systems are organized by governments, while non-political elections may take place in business, non-profit organisations and informal organisations. These rules govern all aspects of the voting process: when elections occur, who is allowed to vote, who can stand as a candidate, how ballots are marked and cast, how the ballots are counted, limits on campaign spending, and other factors that can affect the outcome. Political electoral systems are defined by constitutions and electoral laws, are typically conducted by election commissions, and can use multiple types of elections for different offices.