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A two-party system is a
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

political
party system A party system is a concept in comparative political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making ...
in which two
major Major is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are repre ...
political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some kind of position; for example: * to be elected to ...
consistently dominate the political landscape. At any point in time, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
and is usually referred to as the ''majority'' or ''governing party'' while the other is the ''minority'' or ''opposition party''. Around the world, the term has different meanings. For example, in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the Lucayan Archipelago The Lucayan Archipelago (named for the original native Lucayan people The Lucayan () people were the original resid ...
,
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or ...
,
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...
, and
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individ ...
, the sense of ''two-party system'' describes an arrangement in which all or nearly all
elected official An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with it) in an organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an ...

elected official
s belong to either of the two major parties, and third parties rarely win any seats in the legislature. In such arrangements, two-party systems are thought to result from several factors, like "winner takes all" or "first past the post" election systems.Regis Publishing
The US System: Winner Takes All
Accessed August 12, 2013, "...Winner-take-all rules trigger a cycle that leads to and strengthens a system of few (two in the US) political parties..."

The Two Party System, Boundless Publishing
Two-party systems are prominent in various countries, such as the U.S., and contain both advantages and disadvantages
, Accessed August 12, 2013 "...There are two main reasons winner-takes-all systems lead to a two-party system...",
Eric Black, Minnpost, October 8, 2012
Why the same two parties dominate our two-party system
, Accessed August 12, 2013, "...SMDP (single-member districts, plurality) voting system. ... This forces those who might favor a minor party candidate to either vote for whichever of the two biggest parties the voter dislikes the least, or to risk the likelihood that their vote will be "wasted" or, worse, that they will end up helping the major-party candidate whom the voter dislikes the most to win. Minor parties aren’t banned, but they seldom produce a plurality winner, and their lack of success often causes the minor parties to wither and die...."
In such systems, while chances for third-party candidates winning election to major national office are remote, it is possible for groups within the larger parties, or in opposition to one or both of them, to exert influence on the two major parties.Patrick Bashan, CATO Institute, June 9, 2004
Do Electoral Systems Affect Government Size?
, Accessed August 12, 2013, "...The current system has many disadvantages, most notably its propensity to discriminate against minor parties operating outside the increasingly uncompetitive, cozy two-party system.... America’s winner-takes-all electoral system may be the least bad option for those seeking to limit government involvement in the nation’s economic life...."
Two Party System, PBS

, Accessed August 12, 2013, "...Third-party or independent candidates face a slew of obstacles in American politics, from limited media coverage to legal barriers and Congressional leadership rules. Laws regarding third-party candidates also vary from state to state, presenting additional difficulties...."
Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake, May 18, 2012, The Washington Post

, Accessed August 11, 2013
In contrast, in
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
, the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...
and in other
parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' an ...
s and elsewhere, the term ''two-party system'' is sometimes used to indicate an arrangement in which two major parties dominate elections but in which there are viable third parties that do win some seats in the legislature, and in which the two major parties exert proportionately greater influence than their percentage of votes would suggest. Explanations for why a political system with
free election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office.
s may evolve into a two-party system have been debated. A leading theory, referred to as
Duverger's law#REDIRECT Duverger's law In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thoughts, polit ...
, states that two parties are a natural result of a winner-take-all voting system.


Examples


Commonwealth countries

In countries such as
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...
, two major parties emerge which have strong influence and tend to elect most of the candidates, but a multitude of lesser parties exist with varying degrees of influence, and sometimes these lesser parties are able to elect officials who participate in the legislature. Political systems based on the
Westminster system The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...
, which is a particular style of
parliamentary democracy A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (or subordinate entity) where the Executive (government), executive derives its democratic legitimacy fr ...
based on the British model and found in many commonwealth countries, a majority party will form the
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
and the minority party will form the
opposition Opposition may refer to: Arts and media * Opposition (Altars EP), ''Opposition'' (Altars EP), 2011 EP by Christian metalcore band Altars * The Opposition (band), a London post-punk band * ''The Opposition with Jordan Klepper'', a late-night tele ...
, and coalitions of lesser parties are possible; in the rare circumstance in which neither party is the majority, a
hung parliament A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no particular political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an absolute majority of legislators (c ...
arises. Sometimes these systems are described as ''two-party systems'' but they are usually referred to as ''multi-party'' systems or a ''two-party plus'' system. There is not always a sharp boundary between a two-party system and a multi-party system. Generally, a two-party system becomes a dichotomous division of the political spectrum with an ostensibly
left-wing Left-wing politics support social equality Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social in ...
and
right-wing Right-wing politics is generally defined by support of the view that certain social order The term social order can be used in two senses: In the first sense, it refers to a particular system of social structures and institution Instit ...
party: the
Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers to: *Democratic Party (United States) Democratic Party and similar terms may also refer to: Active parties Africa *Botswana Democratic Party *Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea *Gabonese Democratic Party *Democ ...
versus the
Republican Party Republican Party is a name used by many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have similar ideas about polit ...
in the United States, the
Labor Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
versus the
Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
National National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ...
Coalition The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a co ...
bloc in Australia, the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
versus the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
in the United Kingdom, and the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
versus the
Nationalist PartyNationalist Party may refer to: Current parties * Bangladesh Nationalist Party * Basque Nationalist Party * Cornish Nationalist Party * Nacionalista Party (Philippines) * Nationalist Movement Party (Turkey) * Nationalist Party of Canada * Nationalist ...
in
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
. Other parties in these countries may have seen candidates elected to
local Local may refer to: Geography and transportation * Local (train) In rail transport Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) i ...
or office, however. In some governments, certain chambers may resemble a two-party system and others a
multi-party system In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decis ...
. For example, the
politics of Australia The politics of Australia take place within the framework of a federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of ...
are largely two-party (the
Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
/
National National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ...
Coalition The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a co ...
is often considered a single party at a national level due to their long-standing alliance in forming governments; they also rarely compete for the same seats) for the
Australian House of Representatives The House of Representatives is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated commun ...

Australian House of Representatives
, which is elected by
instant-runoff voting Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a type of Ranked voting, ranked preferential electoral system, vote counting method used in single-seat elections with more than two candidates. IRV is also sometimes referred to as the alternative vote (AV), pre ...
, known within Australia as preferential voting. However, third parties are more common in the
Australian Senate The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives (Australia), House of Representatives. The compositioned and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I of the Con ...
, which uses a more amenable to minor parties. In
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...
, there is a multiparty system at the federal and provincial levels; however, some provinces have effectively become two-party systems in which only two parties regularly get members elected, while smaller parties largely fail to secure electoral representation, and two of the three territories are run under a non-partisan
consensus government A consensus government is one in which the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass ...
model rather than through a political party system. The provincial legislative assemblies of
Alberta ("Strong and free") , image_map = Alberta in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English , capital = Edmonton Edmonton ( ) is the capital ...

Alberta
and
Saskatchewan ("From Many Peoples Strength") , image_map = Saskatchewan in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English language, English , capital = Regina, S ...
currently have only two parties; two-party representation has also historically been common in the legislative assemblies of
British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , image_map = British Columbia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = None , Slogan = Beautiful British C ...

British Columbia
,
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital city of the Canadian provinc ...

New Brunswick
and
Prince Edward Island (''The small protected by the great'') , image_map = Prince Edward Island in Canada (special marker) 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English English usually ref ...

Prince Edward Island
, although all did elect some third-party members in their most recent provincial elections. The English-speaking countries of the Caribbean while inheriting their basic political system from
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Great Britain
have become two-party systems. The
politics of Jamaica Politics in Jamaica takes place in the framework of a representative parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance Governance comprises all of the processes of governing ...
are between the
People's National Party The People's National Party (PNP) is a social-democratic Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within socialism that supports Democracy, political and economic democracy ...
and the
Jamaica Labour Party The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is one of the two major political parties in Jamaica, the other being the People's National Party The People's National Party (PNP) is a Social democracy, social-democratic List of political parties in Jamaica, ...
. The politics of Guyana are between the People's Progressive Party and APNU which is actually a coalition of smaller parties. The
politics of Trinidad and Tobago The politics of Trinidad and Tobago function within the framework of a unitary state A unitary state is a State (polity), state governed as a single entity in which the central government is ultimately supreme. Unitary states stand in contrast w ...
are between the
People's National Movement The People's National Movement (PNM) is the longest-serving and oldest active Politics of Trinidad and Tobago, political party in Trinidad and Tobago. The party has dominated national and local politics for much of Trinidad and Tobago's histo ...
and the
United National Congress The United National Congress (UNC) is one of two major political parties in Trinidad and Tobago and the current opposition party. The UNC is a Centre-left politics, centre-left party. It was founded in 1989 by Basdeo Panday, a Trinidadian lawyer, ...
. The
Politics of Belize Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive process resulting in the selection ...
are between the
United Democratic PartyUnited Democratic Party may refer to: *United Democratic Party (Belize) *United Democratic Party (British Guiana) *United Democratic Party (Cayman Islands) *United Democratic Party (The Gambia) *United Democratic Party (Malaysia) *United Democratic ...
and the
People's United Party The People's United Party (PUP) is one of two major political parties in Belize. It is currently the governing party of Belize after success in the 2020 Belizean general election, winning a majority of 26 seats out of 31 in the House of Represent ...
. The
Politics of the Bahamas The Bahamas is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies differ fr ...
are between the
Progressive Liberal Party The Progressive Liberal Party (Abbreviation, abbreviated PLP) is a Populism, populist and Social liberalism, social liberal party in the Bahamas. Philip Davis (Bahamian politician), Philip Davies is the leader of the party. History The PLP was ...
and the
Free National Movement The Free National Movement ( abbreviated FNM) is a political party in The Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the ...
. The politics of Barbados are between the Democratic Labour Party and the
Barbados Labour Party The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) or ''Bees'' is the main party of government of Barbados Barbados is an in the of the , in the region of , and the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. It is in length and up to in width, covering ...
. The
politics of Zimbabwe The politics of Zimbabwe takes place in a framework of a full presidential system, presidential republic, whereby the President of Zimbabwe, President is the head of state and head of government, government as organized by the 2013 Constitution of ...
are effectively a two-party system between the
Robert Mugabe Robert Gabriel Mugabe (; ; 21 February 1924 – 6 September 2019) was a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe The prime minister of Zimbabwe was a political office in the government of Zimbab ...

Robert Mugabe
founded Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the opposition coalition Movement for Democratic Change.


United States

The
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
has two dominant political parties; historically, there have been few instances in which third party candidates won an election. In the
First Party System First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...

First Party System
, only Alexander Hamilton's
Federalist Party The Federalist Party was the first political party in the United States American electoral politics has been dominated by two major political parties since shortly after the founding of the republic. Since the 1850s, they have been the Histo ...
and Thomas Jefferson's
Democratic-Republican Party The Democratic-Republican Party, also referred to as the Jeffersonian Republican Party and known at the time under various other names, was an American political party founded by Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – ...
were significant political parties. Toward the end of the First Party System, the Democratic-Republicans were dominant (primarily under the Presidency of
James Monroe James Monroe (; April 28, 1758July 4, 1831) was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. ...
). Under the
Second Party System Historians and political scientists use Second Party System to periodize the political party system operating in the United States from about 1828 to 1852, after the First Party System ended. The system was characterized by rapidly rising levels o ...

Second Party System
, the Democratic-Republican Party split during the election of 1824 into Adams' Men and Jackson's Men. In
1828 Events January–March * January 4 – Jean Baptiste Gay, vicomte de Martignac Jean-Baptiste Sylvère Gay, 1st Viscount of Martignac (20 June 1778 3 April 1832) was a moderate royalist French statesman during the Bourbon Restoration ...
, the modern
Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers to: *Democratic Party (United States) Democratic Party and similar terms may also refer to: Active parties Africa *Botswana Democratic Party *Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea *Gabonese Democratic Party *Democ ...
formed in support of
Andrew Jackson Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was an American lawyer, soldier, and statesman who served as the seventh president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of ...

Andrew Jackson
. The National Republicans were formed in support of
John Quincy Adams John Quincy Adams (; July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, and diarist, who served as the 6th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . ...

John Quincy Adams
. After the National Republicans collapsed, the Whig Party and the
Free Soil Party The Free Soil Party was a short-lived coalition political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas ...

Free Soil Party
quickly formed and collapsed. In 1854 began the
Third Party System In the terminology of historians and political scientists, the Third Party System was a period in the history of political parties in the United States American electoral politics have been dominated by two major political parties A polit ...

Third Party System
when the modern
Republican Party Republican Party is a name used by many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have similar ideas about polit ...
formed from a loose coalition of former Whigs, Free Soilers and other anti-slavery activists. The Republicans quickly became the dominant party nationally, and
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
became the first Republican President in 1860. The Democrats held a strong, loyal coalition in the
Solid South The Solid South or Southern bloc was the electoral voting bloc of the states of the Southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, Dixie, the Southland, or simply the South, ...
. This period saw the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
where the South (which was mostly dominated by the
Southern Democrats ''This page is about members of the Democratic Party from the historical South, for the short lived segregationist third party that was founded and dissolved in 1948, see States Rights Democratic Party.'' Southern Democrats are members of the U.S ...
) attempted to secede, in an attempt to preserve racial slavery. The South lost the war and were forced to end slavery, and during the following
Reconstruction Era The Reconstruction era was a period in American history The history of the United States started with the arrival of Native Americans in North America around 15,000 BC. Native American cultures in the United States, Numerous indigenous ...
the Republicans remained the most popular party nationally while the Democrats remained dominant in the South. During the
Fourth Party System The Fourth Party System is the term used in political science and history for the period in American political history from about 1896 to 1932 that was dominated by the History of the United States Republican Party, Republican Party, except the 191 ...

Fourth Party System
from about 1896 to 1932, the Republicans remained the dominant Presidential party, although Democrats
Grover Cleveland Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837June 24, 1908) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A h ...

Grover Cleveland
and
Woodrow Wilson Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of gove ...

Woodrow Wilson
were both elected to two terms. The 1932 United States elections saw the onset of the
Fifth Party System The Fifth Party System is the era of American national politics that began with the New Deal in 1932 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This era of Democratic Party-dominance emerged from the realignment of the voting blocA voting bloc is a ...
and a long period of Democratic dominance due to the
New Deal Coalition#REDIRECT New Deal coalition The New Deal Coalition was an American political coalition that supported the Democratic Party from 1932 until the late 1960s. The coalition is named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs and was c ...
. Democrat President
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the De ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt
won landslides in four consecutive elections. Other than the two terms of Republican
Dwight Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. In its broadest sense, the term ...
from 1953 to 1961, Democrats retained firm control of the Presidency until the mid-1960s. In Congress, Democrats retained majorities in both houses for 60 years until the mid-1990s, broken only by brief Republican majorities. There was a significant change in U.S. politics in 1960, and this is seen by some as a transition to a sixth party system. Since the mid-1960s, despite a number of landslides (such as
Richard Nixon Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the of the and is the of the . The power o ...

Richard Nixon
carrying 49 states and 61% of the popular vote over
George McGovern George Stanley McGovern (July 19, 1922 – October 21, 2012) was an American historian and South Dakota politician who was a U.S. representative The United States House of Representatives is the lower house A lower house is one ...
in
1972 Within the context of Coordinated Universal Time Coordinated Universal Time or UTC is the primary time standard A time standard is a specification for measuring time: either the rate at which time passes; or points in time; or both. ...
;
Ronald Reagan Ronald Wilson Reagan ( ; February 6, 1911June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the of ...

Ronald Reagan
carrying 49 states and 58% of the popular vote over
Walter Mondale Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale (January 5, 1928 – April 19, 2021) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 42nd vice president of the United States The vice president of the United States (VPOTUS) is the second-highest of ...
in
1984 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years). This day is known as New Year's Day since the day m ...
), Presidential elections have been competitive between the predominant Republican and Democratic parties and no one party has been able to hold the Presidency for more than three consecutive terms. In the election of
2012 2012 was designated as: *International Year of Cooperatives2012 was designated as the International Year of Cooperatives by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2009. The designation has honored the use of cooperative organiz ...
, only 4% separated the popular vote between
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government ...

Barack Obama
(51%) and
Mitt Romney Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) is an American politician and businessman serving as the junior Junior or Juniors may refer to: Sport * Junior athletics, age-based athletic training and completion category * Instances of junior ...

Mitt Romney
(47%), although Obama won the electoral vote (332–206). Throughout every American party system, no third party has won a Presidential election or majorities in either house of Congress. Despite that, third parties and third party candidates have gained traction and support. In the election of
1912 Events January * January 1 – The Republic of China (1912–49), Republic of China is established. * January 4 – The Scout Association is incorporated throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, British Commonwealth, by Royal Charter ...
,
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt Jr. ( ; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to as Teddy or his initials T. R., was an American politician, statesman, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who served as the 26th president o ...

Theodore Roosevelt
won 27% of the popular vote and 88 electoral votes running as a
Progressive Progressive may refer to: Politics * Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform Political organizations * Congressional Progressive Caucus, members within the Democratic Party in the United States Congress dedicated to th ...
. In the 1992 Presidential election,
Ross Perot Henry Ross Perot (; June 27, 1930 – July 9, 2019) was an American business magnate, billionaire, politician and philanthropist. He was the founder and chief executive officer of Electronic Data Systems and Perot Systems. He ran an Indepe ...

Ross Perot
won 19% of the popular vote but no electoral votes running as an Independent. Modern
American politics The United States is a constitutional federal republic, in which the president of the United States, president (the head of state and head of government), United States Congress, Congress, and United States federal courts, judiciary share Separat ...
, in particular the , has been described as duopolistic since the
Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
and
Democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: Politics *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people ...
parties have dominated and framed
policy Policy is a deliberate system of guideline A guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action. A guideline aims to streamline particular processes according to a set routine or sound practice. Guidelines may be issued by a ...

policy
debate as well as the public discourse on matters of national concern for about a century and a half. Third Parties have encountered various blocks in getting onto ballots at different levels of government as well as other electoral obstacles, such as denial of access to general election debates. Since 1987, the
Commission on Presidential Debates The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collecti ...
, established by the Republican and Democratic parties themselves, supplanted debates run since 1920 by the
League of Women Voters The League of Women Voters (LWV) is a nonprofit organization in the United States that was formed to help women take a larger role in public affairs after they won the right to vote. It was founded in 1920 to support the new women suffrage rights ...
. The League withdrew its support in protest in 1988 over objections of alleged stagecraft such as rules for camera placement, filling the audience with supporters, approved moderators, predetermined question selection, room temperature and others. The Commission maintains its own rules for admittance and has only admitted a single third-party candidate to a televised debate, Ross Perot in 1992. Some parts of the US have had their own party systems, distinct from the rest of the country. * In
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
, there is a
multi-party system In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decis ...
with the Popular Democratic Party and New Progressive Party being the two strongest parties. Minor parties in the 2021 legislature include the
Puerto Rican Independence Party , ideology = , headquarters = San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan (, ; "Saint John John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) * John (surname), including ...
, Citizens' Victory Movement and
Project Dignity Proyecto Dignidad (, PD) is a Puerto Ricans, Puerto Rican political party founded in 2019. In the 2020 Puerto Rican general election, 2020 general election it ran on a Christian democracy and anti-corruption platform. History Project Dignity ...
. * In Guam, the Popular Party (Guam), Popular Party was the only political party from 1949-1954, and was dominant until 1967 when they became affiliated with the Democrats. Since then, the Democrats and Republicans have been the two main parties. * In the Northern Mariana Islands, the Democrats and Republicans are the two main parties but as recently as 2013, the Governor was a member of the Covenant Party (Northern Mariana Islands), Covenant Party. * In American Samoa, the American Samoa Fono (territorial legislature) is non-partisan, and on ballots only candidate names are displayed, not political parties. The Governor has typically been either Democrat or Republican. * In the US Virgin Islands, the Democrats and Republicans have been the main two parties, but two Governors during the 1970s were part of the Independent Citizens Movement, and from 2015-2019 the Governor was an independent.


Australia


House of Representatives

Since the 1920s, the
Australian House of Representatives The House of Representatives is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated commun ...

Australian House of Representatives
(and thus the federal government) has in effect been a two-party system. Since the end of World War II, Australia's House of Representatives has been dominated by 2 factions: * the centre-left Australian Labor Party * the centre-right
Coalition The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a co ...
. The Coalition has been in government about two-thirds of time, broken by 3 periods of Labor governments: 1971-1973, 1982-1996 and 2007-2012. The ALP is Australia's largest and oldest continuing political party, it was formed in 1891 from the Australian labour movement. The party has branches in every state and territory. In New South Wales, there are two Labor branches (Australian Labor Party (New South Wales Branch), NSW Labor and Country Labor) which are registered as separate parties. The Coalition is a near-permanent alliance of several parties, primarily the Liberal Party of Australia (Australia's 2nd largest party) and National Party of Australia (4th largest). It was formed after the 1922 election, when the Nationalist Party (ancestor of today's Liberal Party) lost its absolute majority, and was only able to remain in government by allying with the Country Party (now called the National Party). Under the Coalition agreement, if the Coalition forms government then the Prime Minister of Australia, Prime Minister will be the leader of the Liberals, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Deputy Prime Minister will be the leader of the Nationals. In theory, disagreements between the Coalition's constituent parties would lead to the Coalition being broken. However, the last time that this has happened at the federal level was in 1939-1940. One reason for Australia's two-party system is because the House of Representatives (which chooses the Prime Minister) is elected through the
instant-runoff voting Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a type of Ranked voting, ranked preferential electoral system, vote counting method used in single-seat elections with more than two candidates. IRV is also sometimes referred to as the alternative vote (AV), pre ...
electoral system. Although voters can preference third parties and independents above the major parties, and this does not lead to a spoiler effect, there is still only one member per electoral division (ie: a winner-take-all system) and so major parties tend to win the vast majority of seats (even if they need to rely on preferences to do so - for example, a Labor candidate may win a seat with 30% of the vote for Labor and 21% from Greens voters who ranked Labor second).


Senate

On the other hand, the
Australian Senate The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives (Australia), House of Representatives. The compositioned and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I of the Con ...
is effectively a multi-party system. It uses single transferable vote with multiple Senators for each state/territory. This results in rough proportional representation and as a result, third parties have much more influence and often hold the Balance of power (parliament), balance of power. Since 2004, the Australian Greens have been the third largest party in the country, with 8-13% of the national vote and an equivalent amount of Senators. Prior to this, the Australian Democrats was the third largest party. Other current and past parties include One Nation (Australia), One Nation, the Liberal Democratic Party (Australia), Liberal Democrats and Family First Party, Family First. Some Australian States have seen the rise of minor parties at either the state or federal level (eg: Centre Alliance in South Australia, Katter's Australian Party in northern Queensland, and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party in western New South Wales), while some have seen long periods of dominance by one party. Some parties are absent entirely in parts of the country. * The Australian Capital Territory has had a Labor/ACT Greens, Greens coalition government since 2012, opposed by the Liberals (Nationals not present). Labor was in government alone from 2001-2012. ** Notably, the ACT is the only state/territory where the Greens have been in power. * In the Northern Territory, the two main parties are Labor and the Country Liberal Party (CLP), which aligns with the Coalition at the federal level. * In Western Australia, the Liberal and National parties are not in a permanent coalition at the state level. At the 2021 Western Australian state election Labor won 53 out of 59 lower house seats in a landslide victory. The National Party won 4 seats making them the official opposition. The Liberals won only 2 seats, putting them on the crossbench. * In New South Wales and Victoria (Australia), Victoria, the main parties reflect the situation nationally: Labor versus the Coalition of the Liberals and Nationals. NSW is the only state where the Coalition has never split, but has also never merged into one party. * In South Australia and Tasmania, the main parties are Labor and the Liberals, with the Nationals not holding any seats. * In Queensland, the main parties are Labor and the Liberal National Party of Queensland, Liberal-National Party (LNP). Historically, the Country Party was the largest Coalition member and they governed the state from 1957 until 1989. This was partially due to a malapportionment which heavily favoured rural seats. It had been originally designed by a Labor government, but ended up benefitting the Country Party as demographics shifted. Later, Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen increased his power by using Queensland Police to suppress political dissent, and enacted the Bjelkemander, worsening malapportionment in order to reduce the power of the Liberals so his Country Party could rule alone. Eventually, media reports and the Fitzgerald Inquiry revealed wide-ranging corruption police and government. Bjelke-Petersen was forced to resign in disgrace, while many high-ranking police and politicians were criminally charged. Labor has been in power for most the time since then, with the state Country and Liberal parties merging into the LNP, which is a member of the Coalition federally.


Latin America

Most Latin American countries also have presidential systems very similar to the US often with Winner-Take-All Politics, winner takes all systems. Due to the common accumulation of power in the presidential office both the official party and the main opposition became important political protagonists causing historically two-party systems. Some of the first manifestations of this particularity was with the Liberalism and conservatism in Latin America, liberals and conservatives that often fought for power in all Latin America causing the first two-party systems in most Latin American countries which often lead to civil wars in places like Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, the Central American Republic and Peru, with fights focusing specially on opposing/defending the privileges of the Catholic Church and the Creole peoples, creole aristocracy. Other examples of primitive two-party systems included the Pelucones versus Pipiolos in Chile, Federalist Party (Argentina), Federalists versus Unitarian Party, Unitarians in Argentina, Colorado Party (Paraguay), Colorados versus Authentic Radical Liberal Party, Liberals in Paraguay and Colorado Party (Uruguay), Colorados versus National Party (Uruguay), Nationals in Uruguay. However, as in other regions, the original rivalry between liberals and conservatives was overtaken by a rivalry between center-left (often social-democratic) parties versus center-right liberal conservative parties, focusing more in economic differences than in cultural and religious differences as it was common during the liberal versus conservative period. Examples of this include National Liberation Party (Costa Rica), National Liberation Party versus Social Christian Unity Party in Costa Rica, the peronista Justicialist Party versus Radical Civic Union in Argentina, Democratic Action (Venezuela), Democratic Action versus COPEI in Venezuela, the Colombian Liberal Party versus the Colombian Conservative Party in Colombia, Democratic Revolutionary Party versus Panameñista Party in Panama and Liberal Party of Honduras, Liberal Party versus National Party of Honduras, National Party in Honduras. After the democratization of Central America following the end of the Central American crisis in the 90s former far-left guerrillas and former right-wing authoritarian parties, now in peace, make some similar two-party systems in countries like Nicaragua between the Sandinista National Liberation Front and the Liberalism in Nicaragua, Liberals and in El Salvador between the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and the Nationalist Republican Alliance. The traditional two-party dynamic started to break after a while, especially in early 2000s; alternative parties won elections breaking the traditional two-party systems including Rafael Caldera's (National Convergence (Venezuela), National Convergence) 1993 Venezuelan general election, victory in Venezuela in 1993, Álvaro Uribe (Colombia First) 2002 Colombian presidential election, victory in 2002, Tabaré Vázquez (Broad Front (Uruguay), Broad Front) 2004 Uruguayan general election, victory in Uruguay in 2004, Ricardo Martinelli (Democratic Change (Panama), Democratic Change) 2009 Panamanian general election, victory in 2009 in Panama, Luis Guillermo Solís (Citizens' Action Party (Costa Rica), Citizens' Action Party ) 2014 Costa Rican general election, victory in 2014 in Costa Rica, Mauricio Macri (Republican Proposal) 2015 Argentine general election, victory in 2015 in Argentina and Nayib Bukele (Grand Alliance for National Unity) 2019 Salvadoran presidential election, victory in 2019 in El Salvador, all of them from non-traditional third party (politics), third parties in their respective countries. In some countries like Chile and Venezuela the political system is now split in two large multi-party alliances or blocs, one on the left and one on the right of the spectrum (Concertación/New Majority (Chile), New Majority versus Alliance (Chile), Alliance in Chile, Democratic Unity Roundtable versus Great Patriotic Pole in Venezuela).


Malta

Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...
is somewhat unusual in that while the electoral system is single transferable vote (STV), traditionally associated with proportional representation, minor parties have not had much success. Politics is dominated between the centre-left Labour Party (Malta), Labour Party and the centre-right
Nationalist PartyNationalist Party may refer to: Current parties * Bangladesh Nationalist Party * Basque Nationalist Party * Cornish Nationalist Party * Nacionalista Party (Philippines) * Nationalist Movement Party (Turkey) * Nationalist Party of Canada * Nationalist ...
, with no third parties winning seats in Parliament between 1962 Maltese general election, 1962 and 2017 Maltese general election, 2017.


South Korea

Politics of South Korea, South Korea has a multi-party system that has sometimes been described as having characteristics of a two-party system. Parties will have reconstructions based upon its leader, but the country continues to maintain two major parties. Currently these parties are the Liberalism in South Korea, liberal Democratic Party of Korea and the Conservatism in South Korea, conservative People Power Party (South Korea), People Power Party.


Taiwan

Politics of Taiwan, Taiwan has a multi-party system that has sometimes been described as having characteristics of a two-party system. Currently these parties are the Progressivism in Taiwan, progressive Democratic Progressive Party and the Conservatism in Taiwan, conservative Kuomintang.


Lebanon

The Parliament of Lebanon is mainly made up of two bipartisan alliances. Although both alliances are made up of several political parties on both ends of the political spectrum the two-way political situation has mainly arisen due to strong ideological differences in the electorate. Once again this can mainly be attributed to the Plurality voting system, winner takes all thesis.


Brazil

During the Empire_of_Brazil, imperial period, since 1840, two great parties with a national base alternated its dominance between legislatures: the Liberal_Party_(Brazil), Liberal and the Conservative_Party_(Brazil), Conservative. These parties were dissolved in 1889, after the republic was instituted in Brazil, in which the registration of party directories came under the jurisdiction of the states. Brazil also had a two-party system for most of Brazilian military government, its military dictatorship (1964–1985): on October 27, 1965, the Institutional Act 2 decree banned all existing parties and conditioned the creation of new parties to the quorum of 1/3 of the then-elected National Congress; resulting in the creation of two parties: a pro-government party, the National Renewal Alliance (ARENA) and an opposition party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB). Despite officially having a bipartisan system, complex electoral mechanisms, nominally neutral, were created to guarantee the prevalence of the National Renewal Alliance, ARENA in the National_Congress_of_Brazil, National Congress, making Brazil, in practice, a dominant-party system in that period. The two parties were dissolved in 1979, when the regime allowed other parties to form.


Spain

A report in ''The Christian Science Monitor'' in 2008 suggested that Spain was moving towards a "greater two-party system" while acknowledging that Spain has "many small parties". However a 2015 article published by ''WashingtonPost.com'' written by academic Fernando Casal Bértoa noted the decline in support for the two main parties, the People's Party (Spain), People's Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in recent years, with these two parties winning only 52 percent of the votes in that year's 2015 Spanish regional elections, regional and 2015 Spanish local elections, local elections. He explained this as being due to the 2008–16 Spanish financial crisis, Spanish economic crisis, a series of Corruption in Spain#Corruption cases in the post-Franco era, political corruption scandals and broken campaign promises. He argued that the emergence of the new Citizens (Spanish political party), Citizens and Podemos (Spanish political party), Podemos parties would mean the political system would evolve into a two-bloc system, with an alliance of the PP and Citizens on the right facing a leftist coalition of PSOE, Podemos and the United Left (Spain), United Left. Far-right Vox (political party), Vox party became the third largest group on the Spanish parliament recently.


Comparisons with other party systems

Two-party systems can be contrasted with: * Multi-party systems. In these, the effective number of parties is greater than two but usually fewer than five; in a two-party system, the effective number of parties is two (according to one analysis, the actual average number of parties varies between 1.7 and 2.1). The parties in a multi-party system can control government separately or as a coalition; in a two-party system, however, coalition governments rarely form. Examples of nations with multi-party systems include Brazil,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Ukraine, Spain, Sweden and Thailand. * One-party state, One-party systems or dominant-party systems happen in nations where no more than one party is codified in law and/or officially recognized, or where alternate parties are restricted by the dominant party which wields power. Examples include rule by the Communist Party of China and Communist Party of Cuba.


Causes

There are several reasons why, in some systems, two major parties dominate the political landscape. There has been speculation that a two-party system arose in the United States from early political battling between the federalists and anti-federalists in the first few decades after the ratification of the United States Constitution, Constitution, according to several views. In addition, there has been more speculation that the winner-takes-all electoral system as well as particular state and federal laws regarding voting procedures helped to cause a two-party system. Political scientists such as Maurice Duverger and William H. Riker claim that there are strong correlations between voting rules and type of party system. Jeffrey D. Sachs agreed that there was a link between voting arrangements and the effective number of parties. Sachs explained how the first-past-the-post voting arrangement tended to promote a two-party system: Consider a system in which voters can vote for any candidate from any one of many parties. Suppose further that if a party gets 15% of votes, then that party will win 15% of the seats in the legislature. This is termed ''proportional representation'' or more accurately as ''party-proportional representation''. Political scientists speculate that proportional representation leads logically to multi-party systems, since it allows new parties to build a niche in the legislature: In contrast, a voting system that allows only a single winner for each possible legislative seat is sometimes termed a plurality voting system or single-winner voting system and is usually described under the heading of a ''winner-takes-all'' arrangement. Each voter can cast a single vote for any candidate within any given legislative district, but the candidate with the most votes wins the seat, although variants, such as requiring a majority, are sometimes used. What happens is that in a general election, a party that consistently comes in third in every district is unlikely to win any legislative seats even if there is a significant proportion of the electorate favoring its positions. This arrangement strongly favors large and well–organized political parties that are able to appeal to voters in many districts and hence win many seats, and discourages smaller or regional parties. Politically oriented people consider their only realistic way to capture political power is to run under the auspices of the two dominant parties. In the U.S., forty-eight states have a standard ''winner-takes-all'' electoral system for amassing presidential votes in the Electoral College (United States), Electoral College system. The ''winner-takes-all'' principle applies in presidential elections, since if a presidential candidate gets the most votes in any particular state, ''all'' of the electoral votes from that state are awarded. In all but two states, Maine and Nebraska, the presidential candidate winning a plurality of votes wins all of the electoral votes, a practice called the unit rule. Duverger concluded that "plurality election single-ballot procedures are likely to produce two-party systems, whereas proportional representation and runoff designs encourage multipartyism." He suggested there were two reasons why ''winner-takes-all'' systems leads to a two-party system. First, the weaker parties are pressured to form an alliance, sometimes called a ''fusion'', to try to become big enough to challenge a large dominant party and, in so doing, gain political clout in the legislature. Second, voters learn, over time, not to vote for candidates outside of one of the two large parties since their votes for third party candidates are usually ineffectual. As a result, weaker parties are eliminated by voters over time. Duverger pointed to statistics and tactics to suggest that voters tended to gravitate towards one of the two main parties, a phenomenon which he called ''polarization'', and tend to shun third parties. For example, some analysts suggest that the Electoral College (United States), Electoral College system in the United States, by favoring a system of winner-takes-all in presidential elections, is a structural choice favoring only two major parties. Gary Cox suggested that America's two-party system was highly related with economic prosperity in the country: An effort in 2012 by centrist groups to promote ballot access by third-party candidates called Americans Elect spent $15 million to get ballot access but failed to elect any candidates. The lack of choice in a two-party model in politics has often been compared to the variety of choices in the marketplace.


Third parties

Third parties, meaning a party other than one of the two dominant parties, are possible in two-party systems, but they are often unlikely to exert much influence by gaining control of legislatures or by winning elections. While there are occasional opinions in the media expressed about the possibility of third parties emerging in the United States, for example, political insiders such as the 1980 presidential candidate John Anderson think the chances of one appearing in the early twenty-first century is remote. A report in ''The Guardian'' suggested that American politics has been "stuck in a two-way fight between Republican Party (United States), Republicans and Democratic Party (United States), Democrats" since the American Civil War, Civil War, and that third-party runs had little meaningful success. Third parties in a two-party system can be: * Built around a particular ideology or interest group * Split off from one of the major parties or * Focused on a charisma, charismatic individual. When third parties are built around an ideology which is at odds with the majority mindset, many members belong to such a party not for the purpose of expecting electoral success but rather for personal or psychological reasons. In the U.S., third parties include older ones such as the Libertarian Party (United States), Libertarian Party and the Green Party (United States), Green Party and newer ones such as the United States Pirate Party, Pirate Party. Many believe that third parties don't affect American politics by winning elections, but they can act as "spoilers" by taking votes from one of the two major parties. They act like barometers of change in the political mood since they push the major parties to consider their demands. An analysis in ''New York Magazine'' by Ryan Lizza in 2006 suggested that third parties arose from time to time in the nineteenth century around single-issue movements such as abolition, women's suffrage, and the direct election of senators, but were less prominent in the twentieth century. A so-called ''third party'' in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
were historically the Liberal Democrats (UK), Liberal Democrats, prior to the Scottish National Party, SNP taken its place since the 2015 United Kingdom general election, 2015 election by number of the House of Common seats. In the 2010 United Kingdom general election, 2010 election, the Liberal Democrats received 23% of the votes but only 9% of the seats in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons. While electoral results do not necessarily translate into legislative seats, the Liberal Democrats can exert influence if there is a situation such as a
hung parliament A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no particular political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an absolute majority of legislators (c ...
. In this instance, neither of the two main parties (at present, the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
and the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
) have sufficient authority to run the government. Accordingly, the Liberal Democrats can in theory exert tremendous influence in such a situation since they can ally with one of the two main parties to form a coalition. This happened in the Cameron–Clegg coalition, Coalition government of 2010. More than 13% of the seats in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, British House of Commons are held in 2011 by representatives of political parties other than the two leading political parties of that nation, such that contemporary Britain is considered by some to be a
multi-party system In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decis ...
, and not a two-party system. The two party system in the United Kingdom allows for other parties to exist, although the main two parties tend to dominate politics; in this arrangement, other parties are not excluded and can win seats in Parliament. In contrast, the two party system in the United States has been described as a duopoly or an enforced two-party system, such that politics is almost entirely dominated by either the Republican party of the United States, Republicans or Democratic party of the United States, Democrats, and third parties rarely win seats in United States Congress, Congress.


Advantages

Some historians have suggested that two-party systems promote centrism and encourage political parties to find common positions which appeal to wide swaths of the electorate. It can lead to political stability which leads, in turn, to economic growth. Historian Patrick Allitt of the Teaching Company suggested that it is difficult to overestimate the long-term economic benefits of political stability. Sometimes two-party systems have been seen as preferable to multi-party systems because they are simpler to govern, with less fractiousness and greater harmony, since it discourages radical minor parties, while multi-party systems can sometimes lead to
hung parliament A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no particular political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an absolute majority of legislators (c ...
s. Politics in Italy, Italy, with a multi-party system, has had years of divisive politics since 2000, although analyst Silvia Aloisi suggested in 2008 that the nation may be moving closer to a two-party arrangement. The two-party has been identified as simpler since there are fewer voting choices.


Disadvantages

Two-party systems have been criticized for downplaying alternative views, being less competitive, encouraging voter apathy since there is a perception of fewer choices, and putting a damper on debate within a nation. In a proportional representation system, lesser parties can moderate policy since they are not usually eliminated from government. One analyst suggested the two-party approach may not promote inter-party compromise but may encourage partisanship. In ''The Tyranny of the Two-party system'', Lisa Jane Disch criticizes two-party systems for failing to provide enough options since only two choices are permitted on the ballot. She wrote: There have been arguments that the winner-take-all mechanism discourages independent or third-party candidates from running for office or promulgating their views.
Ross Perot Henry Ross Perot (; June 27, 1930 – July 9, 2019) was an American business magnate, billionaire, politician and philanthropist. He was the founder and chief executive officer of Electronic Data Systems and Perot Systems. He ran an Indepe ...

Ross Perot
's former campaign manager wrote that the problem with having only two parties is that the nation loses "the ability for things to bubble up from the body politic and give voice to things that aren't being voiced by the major parties." One analyst suggested that parliamentary systems, which typically are multi-party in nature, lead to a better "centralization of policy expertise" in government. Multi-party governments permit wider and more diverse viewpoints in government, and encourage dominant parties to make deals with weaker parties to form winning coalitions. Analyst Chris Weigant of ''the Huffington Post'' wrote that "the parliamentary system is inherently much more open to minority parties getting much better representation than third parties do in the American system". After an election in which the party changes, there can be a "polar shift in policy-making" when voters react to changes. Political analyst A. G. Roderick, writing in his book ''Two Tyrants'', argued that the two American parties, the Republicans and Democrats, are highly unpopular in 2015, and are not part of the political framework of state governments, and do not represent 47% of the electorate who identify themselves as "independents". He makes a case that the POTUS, American president should be elected on a non-partisan basis,Wisconsin Public Radio
Two Tyrants
interview by Kathleen Dunn with author A.G. Roderick
and asserts that both political parties are "cut from the same cloth of corruption and corporate influence." Others have attributed the two party system to encouraging an environment which stifles individual thought processes and analysis. In a two party system, knowledge about political leaning facilitate assumptions to be made about an individuals opinions on a wide variety of topics (e.g. abortion, taxes, the space program, a viral pandemic, human sexuality, the environment, warfare, opinions on police, etc.) which have no causal connection with each other.
"The more destructive problem is the way this skews the discussion of the issues facing the nation. The media – meaning news sources from Fox News to the New York Times and everything in between – seem largely incapable of dealing with any issue outside of the liberal versus conservative paradigm. Whether it's dealing with ISIS, the debt ceiling, or climate change, the media frames every issue as a simple debate between the Democratic and the Republican positions. This creates the ludicrous idea that every public policy problem has two, and only two, approaches. That's nonsense. Certainly some problems have only two resolutions, some have only one, but most have a range of possible solutions. But the "national" debate presents every issue as a simplistic duality, which trivializes everything." —Michael Coblenz, 2016


History


Beginnings of parties in Britain

The two-party system, in the sense of the looser definition, where two parties dominate politics but in which third parties can elect members and gain some representation in the legislature, can be traced to the development of political parties in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. There was a division in England, English politics at the time of the English Civil War, Civil War and Glorious Revolution in the late 17th century. The Whigs (British political party), Whigs supported Protestant constitutional monarchy against Absolute Monarchy, absolute rule and the Tory (British political party), Tories, originating in the Royalist (or "Cavalier") faction of the English Civil War, were conservative royalist supporters of a strong monarchy as a counterbalance to the Republicanism, republican tendencies of Parliament. In the following century, the Whig party's support base widened to include emerging industrial interests and wealthy merchants. The basic matters of principle that defined the struggle between the two factions, were concerning the nature of constitutional monarchy, the desirability of a Catholic king, the extension of religious toleration to Nonconformist (Protestantism), nonconformist Protestants, and other issues that had been put on the liberal agenda through the political concepts propounded by John Locke, Algernon Sidney and others. Vigorous struggle between the two factions characterised the period from the Glorious Revolution to the 1715 Hanoverian succession, over the legacy of the overthrow of the Stuart dynasty and the nature of the new constitutional state. This proto two-party system fell into relative abeyance after the accession to the throne of George I of Great Britain, George I and the consequent period of Whig supremacy under Robert Walpole, during which the Tories were systematically purged from high positions in government. However, although the Tories were dismissed from office for half a century, they still retained a measure of party cohesion under Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Baronet, William Wyndham and acted as a united, though unavailing, opposition to Whig corruption and scandals. At times they cooperated with the "Opposition Whigs", Whigs who were in opposition to the Whig government; however, the ideological gap between the Tories and the Opposition Whigs prevented them from coalescing as a single party.


Emergence of the two-party system in Britain

The old Whig leadership dissolved in the 1760s into a decade of factional chaos with distinct "Grenvillite", "Bedfordite", "Rockingham Whigs, Rockinghamite", and "William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, Chathamite" factions successively in power, and all referring to themselves as "Whigs". Out of this chaos, the first distinctive parties emerged. The first such party was the Rockingham Whigs under the leadership of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, Charles Watson-Wentworth and the intellectual guidance of the political philosophy, political philosopher Edmund Burke. Burke laid out a philosophy that described the basic framework of the political party as "a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed". As opposed to the instability of the earlier factions, which were often tied to a particular leader and could disintegrate if removed from power, the two party system was centred on a set of core principles held by both sides and that allowed the party out of power to remain as the Loyal Opposition to the governing party. A genuine two-party system began to emerge, with the accession to power of William Pitt the Younger in 1783 leading the new Tories, against a reconstituted "Whig" party led by the radicalism (politics), radical politician Charles James Fox. The two-party system matured in the early 19th century 1832 Reform Act, era of political reform, when the franchise was widened and politics entered into the basic divide between conservatism and liberalism that has fundamentally endured up to the present. The modern
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
was created out of the British Tory Party#Pittites, "Pittite" Tories by Robert Peel, who issued the Tamworth Manifesto in 1834 which set out the basic principles of Conservatism – the necessity in specific cases of reform in order to survive, but an opposition to unnecessary change, that could lead to "a perpetual vortex of agitation". Meanwhile, the Whigs, along with free trade Tory followers of Robert Peel, and independent Radicals (UK), Radicals, formed the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party under Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, Lord Palmerston in 1859, and transformed into a party of the growing urban middle-class, under the long leadership of William Ewart Gladstone. The two party system had come of age at the time of Gladstone and his Conservative rival Benjamin Disraeli after the 1867 Reform Act.


History of American political parties

Although the Founding Fathers of the United States did not originally intend for American politics to be partisan, early political controversies in the 1790s saw the emergence of a two-party political system, the Federalist Party (United States), Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party (United States), Democratic-Republican Party, centred on the differing views on federal government powers of United States Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. However, a consensus reached on these issues ended party politics in 1816 for a decade, a period commonly known as the Era of Good Feelings.Stephen Minicucci
Internal Improvements and the Union, 1790–1860
, Studies in American Political Development (2004), 18: pp. 160–85, (2004), Cambridge University Press,
Partisan politics revived in 1829 with the split of the Democratic-Republican Party into the Jacksonian Democracy, Jacksonian Democrats led by
Andrew Jackson Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was an American lawyer, soldier, and statesman who served as the seventh president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of ...

Andrew Jackson
, and the Whig Party, led by Henry Clay. The former evolved into the modern
Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers to: *Democratic Party (United States) Democratic Party and similar terms may also refer to: Active parties Africa *Botswana Democratic Party *Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea *Gabonese Democratic Party *Democ ...
and the latter was replaced with the History of United States Republican Party, Republican Party as one of the two main parties in the 1850s.


See also

*
Duverger's law#REDIRECT Duverger's law In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thoughts, polit ...
* False dichotomy * Multi-party system * Dominant-party system * One-party state * Political organisation


References


External links

* Patrick Dunleavy, Dunleavy, Patrick
Duverger’s Law is a dead parrot. Outside the USA, first-past-the-post voting has no tendency at all to produce two party politics
{{Authority control Types of democracy Elections Political party systems