Third-Party Strategy under Plurality Rule: The British Liberal Democrats and the New Zealand Social Credit Party

Thomas Quinn
2017 Political Studies  
This paper examines the strategic options facing small centrist third parties in two-party parliamentary systems operating under the single-member district plurality (SMDP) electoral system. It uses a spatial model to show that centrist third parties are better off targeting the 'safe' districts of a major party rather than marginal districts. Furthermore, it is optimal to target one party's districts, not both, to benefit from tactical and protest voting. The paper also questions the implicit
more » ... onclusion of the median-legislator theorem that pivotality-seeking is the best strategy for a third party, at least under SMDP, because that would usurp voters' ability to select the executive directly, a key feature of two-partism. Finally, the paper shows that third parties can damage themselves if
doi:10.1177/0032321716677991 fatcat:na7433akzzdjpie62b3zghz66a