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Liam Weeks, "Crashing the party. Does STV help independents?" Party Politics, 20 (July, 2014), 604-616. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
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, 1992: 267).

Figures and Tables:
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, Australia
Table 4. OLS regression of independent vote on STV, Ireland.

Last Paragraph:
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.

Last updated June 2014