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Discuss The View That Third Parties Are Doomed To Fail Politics Essay

994 words - 4 pages

Discuss the view that third parties are doomed to fail [25]
Third parties in the USA face many difficulties during election times and when they are promoting their party during office years. There are eight main areas they face these difficulties, for example the electoral system, matching-funds, ballot access, lack of resources, lack of media coverage, lack of well known/well experienced candidates, ideological reasons and co-optation.
The electoral system heavily adds to the argument that third parties are doomed. This is because of the First Past The Post winner-takes-all system that makes it difficult for the third parties to pick up seats on a national scale. The simple majority system tends to result in a strict two party system, hence the Republican or Democrat led government since 1853, whereas proportional representation would result in more spread out support and favour a multi-party system resulting in more coalitions. Regional third parties do better than national third parties with this system. In 1968, George Wallace gained 13% of the electoral system and 46 Electoral College votes, but these were mostly gained in southern states. In contrast, Ross Perot in 1992 gained 19% of the popular vote and yet no Electoral College votes.
A further reason many believe third parties are doomed to fail is that of ‘matching-funds.’ Typically third parties, because of their smaller status and support have less income and donations than the Republican and Democrat parties. To qualify for matching funds a party must raise at least $5,000, with at least $250 from each state, this is easy for the two main parties but less so for a third party. However, even more difficult is the rule that the party must also achieve at least 5% of the vote in the previous general election. This is very rare for third parties to achieve, although Wallace 1968, Anderson 1920 and Perot 1992 and 1996 have done it. However, like Anderson’s, most third parties are not existent for all the elections, they are ‘here one election, gone the next.’ Thus explaining why when Perot received almost 1/5 of the vote in 1992 he did not qualify but when Buchanan in 2000 did despite winning less than 1 in 100 votes.
The issue of ballot access is a further obstacle for third parties to overcome. In Tennessee to get on the ballot you need a petition of just 25 signatures, which led in 2008 to 6 third party candidates being on the ballot for the Senate. However, it is more difficult in states such as California who require signatures of at least 1% of the state electorate, and New York who requires a certain number of signatures from each county. Anderson knew that in 1980 he would need at least 1.2 million signatures to appear on the ballot in each state, which would cost him $3million, this being difficult due to the previously mentioned ‘matching-funds’ issue.
Furthermore, there is an obstacle of lacking resources that...

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