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In the UK the wasted vote argument was traditionally used to squeeze the votes of minor parties (like the Liberals - regarded as a minor party since circa 1924 by the Conservative and Labour parties). It was more effective in a first past the post election to fill a single place, than it would be in a proportional representation election to fill multiple seats.

The refinement, since the Liberal/Alliance/Liberal Democrats became a significant electoral factor in 1974, is that the third party realised it too could deploy the wasted vote argument whenever it was perceived to be one of the two leading parties in a constituency.

Small numbers of votes can be significant. I myself witnessed a local election in Slough when two candidates were tied and a seat was awarded on a throw of dice. UK parliamentary elections, since universal suffrage, have produced majorities as low as two.

by Gary J on Tue May 8th, 2007 at 08:49:06 AM EST
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