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The Resilience Of The Two Party System: Proving Duverger's Law.

3568 words - 14 pages

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The Resilience of the Two Party SystemDespite civil upheavals, wars, population influxes and the demise of several parties in history, two parties still stand with promising durability. When circumstances have required it, innovative groups have dissented from the established regime to create a new third party. However, acting according to a theory proposed by Maurice Duverger, which states that the simple-majority ballot system favors the two-party system, these groups fade in our plurality-rule voting system . The incumbent major parties remain politically flexible and willing to reach a sort of equilibrium, both moving towards the middle to choke out the emergent opposition. As Duverger's law suggests, our "first past the post" system leaves almost no chance for these third party candidates. And those stubborn few who try are foiled by systematic obstacles and bias against third parties. Rational constituents are inclined to vote for the candidate who closely resembles their ideals, but perhaps more significantly, has a chance of winning to make their vote worthwhile. Citizens support the two-party system, most reaching a consensus on even the most salient social and economic issues rather than revolutionize our familiar system. The law is supplemented by innate challenges within our voting institution that further hinders third party candidates from having a viable chance at presidency. The worth of each vote and the structure of our electoral system together promise an enduring term for Democrats and Republicans, with evidence throughout history showing voters and politicians proving Duverger correct in that plurality rule systems do indeed favor a two party system.In today's electoral landscape, a growing number of citizens are losing faith in parties, with the prolific polarization and gridlock that consumes congress. Many are skeptical of both their efficacy and integrity, deeming them a "tool of entrenched vested interests and a roadblock to meaningful reform." Nearly 40 percent of the electorate are "independent", and 52 percent believe the Republican and Democratic are so poorly representative that a third party is needed. -Table 1 Here- Hence, third party candidates serve as a magnet for those discontented with both major parties. In the famous 1992 election, leading up to November Clinton briefly lost a portion of his constituents to scandalous allegations while President Bush was criticized for raising taxes after pledging against it. This provided an opportune opening for independent Ross Perot, who famously collected 19 percent of the popular vote.These candidates, however momentarily interesting, are inevitably underdogs in any election. According to Duverger, after realizing that a vote for these candidates is futile, the natural tendency of voters is to transfer their votes to the "lesser of the two evils" between the two adversaries. And so, what holds the existing two party paradigm in...

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