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What is the best description of the UK party system? Two-party, Three-party, Multi-party or dominant-party

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Introduction

07/05/07 Tim Gloster What is the best description of the UK party system? Two-party, Three-party, Multi-party or dominant-party A two-party system is a system that always has either one of two main parties in power, for example the republicans and the democrats in the US. The argument for the UK being a two-party system is quite strong. One of the main points is that either Labour or the Conservatives have been in power since 1945, not once since then has another party got into power. There is a compelling argument for why the UK should be considered a two-party system, one of the main points of this argument is that since 1945 either the Conservatives or the Labour party have been in power. Also these two main parties dominate the voting process and the policy and parliamentary agenda. The House of Commons and the House of Lords are also set out towards government-opposition confrontation. ...read more.

Middle

The argument for the UK having a three party system relies on the fact that they are the third largest party in the country and since February 1974, either alone or together with the Social Democrats, they have contested all or nearly all constituencies nation-wide and regularly polled very highly. The Liberal Democrats do particularly well in by-elections and local elections and is the main opposition to the Conservatives in 145 constituencies. However the Liberal Democrats have not held power alone as a party since 1915, because of this in parliamentary terms they are a minor party. Nevertheless this would not be the case, the liberal Democrats would be stronger, if we had a proportional representation voting system instead of 'first past the post'. The next sort of system the UK could have is a dominant party. The argument for a dominant party system relies upon the fact that between 1918 and 1997, the Conservatives were in government for 58 years, which is 73% of the time. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows a huge jump in the number of people voting for the smaller parties, especially the Liberal Democrats. In the 2001 General Election the combined vote of the Conservative and Labour parties was 72.4% leaving the minor parties with 27.6% of the vote, another increase on the previous election. The UK has many political parties but their strongholds are very localised, for example the SNP is popular in Scotland as it is a party which deals purely with Scotland, it has its say in the Scottish Parliament, and Plaid Cymru is popular in Wales, in the Welsh assembly. These parties are also represented in the main UK Parliament in Westminster. There is also parties such as the Greens, UK Independence party and the BNP, however these are not so popular as they are generally 'single issue' parties. In conclusion I believe there maybe an argument for England having a two or three party system however I don't believe that the UK as a whole is one. I am convinced that as a whole the UK has a multi-party system as many parties have influence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. ...read more.

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