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Duverger’s Law and the UK elections

- May 5, 2010

About to be broken? (or, to be a bit less excitable about it, to fail to explain one election).

“Matthew Shugart”:http://fruitsandvotes.com/?p=3933

bq. Today–one day before UK election day–the UK Polling Report average of polls shows the Tories on 35%, Labour on 28%, and Liberal Democrats on 27%. Needless to say, this would not be an outcome that matches Duverger’s Law, were it to materialize in the actual voting. But just how uncommon would such a result be? In the database I assembled for my chapter in the edited volume by Andre Blais, _To Keep or Change First Past the Post,_ I have 210 elections under FPTP. … In these 210 elections, how many saw the largest party have less than 36% and the third party have more than 25%? _One._ Nova Scotia, 1998. If we expand the band a bit further … we pick up just two more: Nova Scotia 2003* and Ontario 1975. In all of these three, the top two parties were within two percentage points of one another, whereas in the UK election it is likely that the second and third parties will be closer than the top two. Each of these three produced a no-majority situation (a hung or balanced parliament)