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Michael Thrasher, Galina Borisyuk, Colin Rallings, and Luke Sloan, "Voting systems in parallel and the benefits for small parties: An examination of Green Party candidates in London elections," Party Politics, 20 (January 2014), 134-142. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue1/ ]

First paragraph:
Research shows that smaller parties generally perform better in voting systems based on some form of proportional representation (PR) than in those that employ simple plurality voting or 'first past the post' (FPTP) (Cox, 1999; Lijphart, 1994; Lijphart and Grofman, 1984; Rae, 1971; Taagepera and Shugart, 1989). Additionally, studies of mixed-member systems also suggest that the combinations of PR and FPTP voting methods create particular opportunities for smaller parties (Bohrer and Krutz, 2004; Dunleavy and Margetts, 2004; Johnston and Pattie, 1999, 2002; Karp, 2009; Siaroff, 2000). Less well researched and understood is whether, when PR and FPTP systems operate not in combination as with say the Additional Member System (AMS) but in parallel (in the sense that electors in the same geographies have discrete opportunities to vote in these systems), smaller parties take advantage of free-rider opportunities provided by one system that are then exploited to enhance the party's performance under the other system.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Summary results of London borough elections 2002- 2010.
Table 2. Voting for the London Assembly 2000-2008.
Table 3. Pattern of Green Party competition: London borough elections 2006.
Table 4. Classifying pattern of candidates at the 2006 London borough elections Classification Table.a
Table 5. Application of the 2006 equation to the 2010 London borough results Cross-tabulation.
Figure 1. Pattern of Green Party competition and 2004 London Assembly list vote support.
Figure 2. Pattern of Green Party competition and 2008 London Assembly list vote support.

Last Paragraph:
There is no clear evidence, therefore, that in general a small party such as the Greens can and does exploit the opportunities provided by different voting systems that run in parallel to one another. However, simply by highlighting the availability of these data and in undertaking and publishing this analysis we may be contributing towards a more optimal pattern of party competition in the future. All small parties that struggle to find sufficient candidates to contest FPTP vacancies henceforth could make a point of closely examining the distribution of support at a list vote election and use that information to target specific wards at the following plurality elections. The next London Assembly elections are scheduled for May 2012 with the borough elections following two years later. In 2014 we may return to this question and encounter a rather different outcome to the one considered here.

Last updated March 2014