The Brexit Party

Just a quick add-on to my previous remarks on the UK 2019 election. Via @kiwiting on Twitter comes this example of a Brexit Party local leaflet.

Look closely and you might actually see the local candidate’s name! As I stress in the preceding post, I expect parties under FPTP (at least in parliamentary systems) to require a national presence in the party system in order normally to do well at the constituency level. That is a key insight of the Seat Product Model, and how it stands apart from “bottom-up” approaches that stress local district-level “coordination” as what drives a party system. But this is pretty extreme: the Brexit Party is not only a single-issue party, it is also a one-man band!

Even though this party at one point was polling above 20% (and won a plurality of the UK vote in the European Parliament elections), it was always hard for me to take the Brexit Party seriously. On the one hand, it certainly is a nationally focused party. On the other hand, the leader Nigel Farage made a decision not to contest any constituency, or to target even one seat somewhere that some candidate of the party might win. The process behind the SPM implies that voters respond to the “viability” of a smaller party, and tend to vote for it without too much regard for the viability of its candidate in their own district. But for that to work, it has to be viable–and preferably winning–somewhere. Not only did the Brexit Party not even try this, it pulled its candidates out of seats the Conservatives hold, while retaining candidates only in districts held by other parties. It is a bizarre strategy if the party was serious, and it is no wonder the party is on life support. Of course, they are going to get their one policy issue enacted (even if not as “hard” as they would like), precisely by not posing too big a risk to the incumbent government’s pursuit of a (manufactured) majority.

5 thoughts on “The Brexit Party

  1. Alex Salmond has created Alba, a new Scottish nationalist party that proposes to run only MMP list candidates in the upcoming election of Members of the Scottish Parliament. This might be viewed as a tactic, similar to Nigel Farage’s creation of a Brexit party for the 2019 UK election, to pull a major party in the direction of a “harder” policy.

    Viewed from another angle, it is an attempt to game 2-vote MMP by setting up a decoy list. With the SNP expected to win most single-member districts, the harvesting of list seats by Alba could ensure a majority of pro-independence MSPs. The Scottish Green party has in the past promoted itself as a destination for surplus Party votes of SNP supporters — the Greens are pooh-poohing the need for Alba.

    And viewed from a third dimension, Alba is simply the vehicle by which an ex-leader of a party is engaging in a power struggle against his successor.

    The Bavarian version of MMP counts both the votes for candidates in single-member districts and votes for “list” candidates towards a party’s share of votes. If applied to the Scottish election, would “Bavarian” 2-vote MMP kill off a decoy list? Perhaps not, if policy or personal factors were the primary reasons for Alba.


      • (Sorry, that middle sentence is supposed to be in quotation marks. Well, while I’m at it, I’ll quote some more:)

        “Galloway argues that if enough voters do this and then use their other vote — which goes towards electing regional members on a list using proportional representation — for All 4 Unity, enough unionists would be elected to remove Sturgeon. He could then broker what he calls a “government of national unity of all the talents.””


  2. Oh, THAT Galloway is back!

    This is fascinating. I was quite surprised to see the Brexit Party sprouting again–the planting about it, that is.

    These new list-party efforts are, of course, also troubling, from a representational standpoint. I may want to make a whole new planting about the questions this raises. Not now, though.


  3. Pingback: Is Scottish MMP being “gamed”? | Fruits and Votes

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