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What are the chances that a 4th placed party could get in?

Peter Cranie, Green Euro-candidate for the North West


 

 

We can make observations from D’Hondt calculations for 9 seats (2):

 

·        When the largest (Conservative) vote is 4 times greater than the 4th place party, then (barring spectacular collapses) only the major parties win seats

 

·        The 2nd largest vote (Labour) will need to be more than 3 times greater than the party in 4th place to prevent them winning a seat

 

·        And the 3rd placed vote (Liberal Democrats) will need to be double the vote of the 4th placed party to prevent them winning a seat

 

Using this example, the 4th placed party would only just fail to win a seat even with 9% of the vote, but this would leave an unrealistic “other” vote of just 1%!

 

Party

Conservative

Labour

Lib Dem

4th Party

Others

Share %

36%+

27%+

18%+

9%

1%

Seats

4

3

2

0

0

 

More realistically, the next example shows the 4th placed party failing to win a seat with 8% of the vote. Even so, this still leave an unrealistically small vote for “other” parties of less than 20%, which underestimates their likely share.

 

Party

Conservative

Labour

Lib Dem

4th Party

Others

Share %

32%+

24%+

16%+

8%

20%

Seats

4

3

2

0

0

 

The prospects of the BNP getting elected with as little as 8% of the vote are very good if they are in 4th place. However, if they are in 5th place, they can be denied the “final” NW seat. Effective anti-racist votes should not just be for the larger parties, but they must also ensure that the BNP finishes in 5th place.

 

The D’Hondt calculations unfortunately mean there still a danger that the BNP will succeed in electing their lead candidate in the North West Region, should two out of three major parties suffer a collapse in their 1999 vote. There are no guarantees and just beating the BNP into 5th place is not good enough. We must improve upon the dismal NW region turnout of 19.6% in 1999.

 

This analysis shows why anti-racist votes need to go to the party most likely to be able to finish in 4th place ahead of the BNP. An extra 2 or 3% of anti-racist votes for an anti-racist party in a position to finish in 4th place, ahead of the BNP, will reduce the chances of the BNP getting elected.

 

The party best placed to do this in the North West is the Green Party. With a core vote of nearly 6% in 1999 likely to be improved upon this time with protest votes over GM foods, a tactical anti-racist vote will definitely ensure the Greens finish as the 4th largest party and help defeat the BNP.

 

Anti-racist votes need to go to the Green Party first, the Liberal Democrats second and (with great reluctance) the Tories third. If the Lib Dems win two seats, it will make it more difficult for the BNP to win the final seat. It is also important that the Tory share of the vote does not drop too much. Although the Labour share is likely to be reduced it is unlikely to drop as low as 25% (reducing Labour to just 2 seats).

 

April 2004

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This article was originally written for the Greens in the North West and will help people get their heads round the technicalities of the voting system.
 
Thanks to Peter for allowing us to reproduce it.