Liam Weeks, "Crashing the
party. Does STV help independents?" Party Politics,
20 (July, 2014), 604-616. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue4/
When political parties consider electoral reform they tend
to favour party-centred over candidate-centred electoral
systems. The latter, particularly versions that foster
intraparty competition, are believed to promote internecine
rivalry within parties and in general to lessen the value of
party in the mindset of the electorate. It is for this
reason that governing parties have tended to shy away from
STV, perhaps the most candidate-centred of all electoral
systems. One consequence of STV's candidate-centred nature
that parties might well fear is its apparent predilection
for non-party, or independent, candidates. Indeed, Thomas
Hare, one of the originators of STV, had an aim of
'weakening the power of parties and increasing the
independence of MPs both in and out of parliament' (Hart,
- Figures and
- Table 1. Independent seats won at upper and lower
house elections in Australia, 1950-2011.
- Figure 1. Mean vote for Independents at lower and
upper house elections in Australia, 1950-2010.
- Figure 2. Commonwealth Senate STV ballot paper.
- Figure 3. ACT STV ballot paper.
- Figure 4. Irish STV ballot paper
- Table 2. Performance of independents at constituency
level STV elections, 1945-2011.
- Table 3. OLS regression of independent vote on STV,
- Table 4. OLS regression of independent vote on STV,
In a wider sense, understanding the reasons for the
growth of non-party politics is a crucially important issue.
If parties are so important to democracy as is claimed,
perhaps further discussion ought to be given to
institutional effects that encourage the development of
opposition, and alternatives, to party politics. In recent
years, independents have held the balance of power in
national governments in Australia, Canada and Ireland, yet
the academic community is still relatively in the dark about
what explains the reemergence of this phenomenon. Whether
independents are viewed in a positive light as promoting
pluralism or in a negative fashion for undermining
accountability and stability, we need to further explore the
causes of an independent presence. An assessment of
electoral system effects is but the first step.