For a project I am currently working on, regarding district-level vote fragmentation, I am toting up the number of losing parties (with any vote share) in electoral districts in various countries.
Here are a few cases that I have completed. This first list of countries gives the number of losing parties, averaging across districts and (usually) more than one election per country.
Czech Republic, 15.5
New Zealand, 2.3
The figure for New Zealand refers to several pre-MMP elections.
This is a small set of countries, and I am currently expanding it. But what really jumps out here is how many partisan choices Albanian voters have. This refers to the 2009 and 2013 pure-PR elections only. The mean district in these Albanian elections has a magnitude of 12, a mean number of winning parties of only 3… and thirty-six losing parties!
Some of the other PR cases also have a lot of losers, but none like Albania.
It is interesting to see how many losing parties are typical of the two big FPTP countries, Canada and UK, with both averaging more than four per district.
Another interesting summary statistic is what vote share the losing parties average. In Albania it is 1.05% per party. That sums to a LOT of wasted votes! Spain, too, has a high average vote share for losing parties for a PR system, at 2.8%. In the Czech Republic it is 1.2% and in Israel (with nationwide PR, rather than districted) it is only 0.4%.
Thus we should also consider the average percentage of the first losing party in a district:
Czech Republic, 4.7
New Zealand, 32.9
Of course, in FPTP systems the average shares for first losers and thus for all losers are especially high, but the larger losing parties in any given district tend to win some seats elsewhere.* In the PR cases, a lot of these losers are not winning anywhere (or might win in just one to two high-magnitude districts); they are just small parties that have no chance at all. I wonder what it is about Albanian party law, or other features of the country’s politics, that contribute to so many micro-parties running.
* The third party (second loser) in the FPTP cases of Canada, UK and (formerly) New Zealand averages 14-15%. The average winner in Canada and the UK, by the way, is at almost precisely 50% (in NZ it was 52.8%).
Most of the raw data from which I calculated the above numbers come from the Constituency Level Electoral Archive, although I am augmenting it from various other sources. The list of countries shown here is the subset on which I am currently working: parliamentary democracies with “simple” electoral systems by Taagepera (2007) criteria, meaning no second round or upper tier. Thanks to Cory Belden for her research assistance; some day she will get a much better acknowledgement than one on a blog post…