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Does Britain have a two party system?

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Introduction

Does Britain have a two party system? To examine whether Britain has a two party system we must first determine what a two party system is and what its features are. There are five main features of a two party system: The first is that the two main parties must have a parity of power; that is they must both have similar amounts of seats in the Commons when looked at over a large period of time. The second is that they both must enjoy a parity support; that is they must gain roughly the same percentage of votes over a large period of time. The two main parties must also have a duopoly of support and a duopoly of representation in the Commons. Lastly, all these factors must apply across the nation in every constituency. Now we must answer the question to what extent do these factors apply to Britain? As well as discussing whether other Party systems apply to Britain and whether the same applies to other elections in Britain such as for the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. ...read more.

Middle

However, this does not apply in Scotland and Wales where Labour, the Lib Dems and the Nationalists are the three biggest parties. Some people might say that Britain has a multi-party system. In Scotland and Wales, the SNP and the Plaid Cymru are the main opposition to Labour with the Liberals coalition partners to Labour. The Tories only hold one seat in Scotland in the Commons. This shows that the two party system does not apply across Britain. It could be argued that Britain is moving towards a three party system especially if a constitution is changed to a more proportional system. The most compelling evidence for this is the Alliance vote in 1983 when they received over 25% of the vote. If they had received a similar amount of seats they would have been in with a chance of taking over Labour in the Commons who only had 2% more of the vote. However, Britain does not have a proportional system so this was never allowed to happen. ...read more.

Conclusion

Support is more regional. In 1997, the Conservatives won no seats in Scotland and Labour won only three seats in Southern England. This shows the traditional voting behaviour that gave the two parties representation all over Britain and gave elections the uniform swing has disappeared. Support is less equal. In four of the last five elections there has been a double figure lead in votes for the winning party. Thirty of forty years ago, it would have been easy to classify Britain as a two party system but now with the current system in a state of change it is more difficult. It is further made difficult by anomalies such as the fourth Conservative victory in 1992 that can be confused with more permanent trends in voting behaviour. This leads me to conclude, that we have a changing party system, one that is moving from a two to a three party system. This change has been encourage by devolution to Scotland and Wales and the electoral reform to a more proportional system would complete the transference to a three party system. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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